U.S. v. Huff, 2015 WL 1639520 (4/15/2015) (KS) (published): The district court granted Huff’s motion to suppress because the officers did not have probable cause to believe he had committed or was committing a crime when they took him out of his car and arrested him. But the court changed its mind after the government filed a motion to reconsider. The government said that it now could point to a specific municipal ordinance Huff had violated when the officers took him out of the car. Huff said the court couldn’t reconsider its decision because the government could have told the court of that ordinance earlier. Unpersuaded, the court reconsidered its decision and denied the motion to suppress. On appeal Huff argued the court should not have considered the government’s reconsideration motion. The panel acknowledged that the government did not have a valid excuse for not making the local ordinance argument earlier. In some circuits, like the 11th and D.C., the government would have been out of luck. However, the panel said, it would not be fair to punish the officers for their righteous arrest when it was the prosecutor or the court that made the error. It didn’t matter if the officers had the specific ordinance in mind when they arrested Huff. The district court could consider and grant the government’s reconsideration motion because ultimately what mattered was that the officers had probable cause to arrest Huff.
Practice tip: When you want to add arguments to a motion the court just denied, file a motion to reconsider and point out that it would undermine the constitutional rights of all, your client included, if law enforcement (or the prosecutor) were allowed to get away with what they did. If nothing else those arguments should be preserved for appeal.