Criminal Defense Clinic: Tinted Window, Tainted Investigation. Case Dismissed Early by the DA in 1538 Suppression Motion!


Cheyenne Joshua, ’24, and Jordan Payne, ’24

Cheyenne Joshua and Jordan Payne represented a 26-year-old Black man who was pulled over while driving safely and lawfully. Viewed through the lens of racial justice, the officers’ proffered justification for the traffic stop felt flimsy and troubling: overly tinted windows. After illegally prodding and poking into our clients’ pockets during an invasive pat frisk, the officers exhaustively searched his car, finding a loaded firearm in the locked glove compartment. Our client was charged with improperly transporting his gun, even though it was properly registered and lawfully owned by our client. Neither officer ever issued him a citation for overly tinted windows. We studied the officers’ body camera footage and concluded that the stop was an illegally prolonged detention, the frisk was unlawfully invasive, and the search of the car was unjustified. Although we prepared for the hearing by writing the anticipated reply brief and mooting three times, the case was dismissed before we had a chance to challenge the officers’ problematic conduct in open court. We were very happy to inform the client, who has no prior record, that the case was over. On the date of the hearing, we went to the Santa Clara Hall of Justice to receive the official dismissal granted by the judge. On that date, the judge also signed an order for the return of our client’s property. Now our client can move forward with his life. In his words, a dark cloud over him has been lifted.