Heien v. North Carolina

Brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers the Cato Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 06/17/2014


Heien v. North Carolina

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 13-604

Prior Decision

Decision below 366 N.C. 271, 737 S.E.2d 351 (N.C. 2012).


The North Carolina Supreme Court’s rule condoning traffic stops based on suspicion of perfectly lawful conduct ignores fundamental differences between mistakes of fact and mistakes of law. Treating mistakes of fact and law ‘the same’ under the Fourth Amendment contravenes well-established legal doctrine. There are important practical distinctions between mistakes of fact and mistakes of law. The North Carolina rule would have negative consequences for both individual citizens and law enforcement. The North Carolina Supreme Court’s rule will have negative consequences for individual liberty and will undermine law enforcement.

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Noah A. Levine, Jamie S. Dycus, Ari J. Savitzky, and Carleen M. Zubrzycki, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, New York, NY; Jonathan D. Hacker, Washington, DC.