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Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Don't Bogart That Joint, My Friend

These are the opening paragraphs of the Sixth Circuit opinion in White v. Wilkey. The facts, as the court noted, are unique, but that's not why I am blogging about it. As can be seen in the bolded passage below, it appears that "roach" has become such a common term that it can be included in a judicial opinion without explanation. 

This case arises from a traffic stop that ended like no other of which we are aware. Deputy Daniel Wilkey stopped Shandle Marie Riley, suspecting that the window tint on her car was too dark. By the end of their encounter, Wilkey and Riley were
discussing religion, which led to the deputy’s baptizing the suspect in a lake.

Riley then brought suit, claiming that Wilkey had violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights. Riley was deposed but subsequently died in circumstances unrelated to this case. The administrator of her estate, Bailey White, continued the suit in Riley’s stead. Wilkey sought qualified immunity against White’s claims, which the district court denied. We dismiss for lack
of jurisdiction.

The stop occurred on the evening of February 6, 2019. During the stop, Riley told Wilkey that she had a marijuana roach in her car. Wilkey asked her to step out of her car, briefly searched her person, then placed her in handcuffs as he searched the vehicle. While this took place, Wilkey and Riley began to discuss religion, and Wilkey asked Riley if she wanted to be baptized. Riley expressed some hesitation but, according to her testimony, agreed to be baptized after Wilkey said that he would only write her a citation and that he would speak on her behalf in court if she agreed. She testified she was afraid of “go[ing] to jail.”  They drove separately to a nearby lake, where Wilkey baptized her.

Opinion by Judge John K. Bush (Harvard), joined by Raymond M. Kethledge (University of Michigan) and Chad A. Readler (University of Michigan). Two of the three marijuana savvy judges attended the University of Michigan for both undergrad and law school, a datum on which I express no opinion.

Posted by Steve Lubet on April 2, 2024 at 05:40 AM | Permalink


(there are older cases too ... seems typical to just use the term w/o explanation; I think it has been common parlance for a considerable amount of time)

Posted by: Joe | Apr 3, 2024 11:29:08 PM

Doing a Google search ("marijuana roach" and "Supreme Court") pops up multiple hits (no pun intended), including one from 2009 (Vermont).

Posted by: Joe | Apr 3, 2024 11:25:04 PM

What legal principles or precedents did the Sixth Circuit consider in its decision regarding Wilkey's qualified immunity claim?

Posted by: Gautam | Apr 3, 2024 3:45:06 PM

I noticed that somewhat entertaining aspect too, when I saw the case on Short Circuit last Friday.

Way back in the early 90s there was a semi-obscure band called the Phunk Junkeez, which included the memorably-named DJ Roachclip. I am dating myself a little.

Posted by: kotodama | Apr 2, 2024 11:53:13 AM

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