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Eye On Boise

Lawyer in license-plate profiling case: ‘There’s a bigger implication’

Mark Coonts, the attorney for Darien Roseen, the retired executive with Colorado license plates who was pulled over, detained and fruitlessly searched for drugs just inside the Idaho border as he passed through the state on I-84, said, “This driver was singled out because of the fact that he had a Colorado plate. … But there’s a bigger implication of any state having a particular characteristic or association with that, being used as justification for law enforcement contact.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, 

“For instance, Idaho is known as a pretty gun-friendly state, pro-gun,” Coonts told Eye on Boise. “It would be like me going to Oregon and being pulled over because of my Idaho plates, and law enforcement assuming that I had a gun, as soon as they walked up to the car, ‘Where’s the gun?’ I think that’s the much broader picture of this case.”

Coonts, who is with Jones & Swartz in Boise, said since news came out about Roseen’s case – and his federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police – his firm has received a number of emails about similar incidents. “Quite a few people have emailed in about similar interactions,” he said. “In Idaho, people being stopped and questioned … the same type of scenario, people being targeted because of the plates of their vehicle.”

He added, “This is, we feel, a civil rights issue. It’s not a political issue about people’s particular ideas about marijuana, we didn’t file it about that at all. And we are not also passing judgment on all law enforcement, because they do have a difficult job. … If somebody’s speeding in our state, law enforcement should be able to issue a citation. It’s when it goes beyond that to start profiling, and people become associated with their state of origin, that’s when it becomes a civil rights violation.” For Idahoans, he said, “the risk is that they could experience the same treatment in other states.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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