Powell v. Appleby – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In Powell v. Appleby, 941 F. Supp. 52 (D. Md. 1996), the operator of an automobile that had been stopped for a cracked windshield brought a civil action against a Maryland State Police trooper, asserting that the trooper violated his rights under the Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments in connection with the traffic stop and resulting search.

The trooper had stopped plaintiff's automobile on Interstate 95 after noticing that the car's windshield was cracked. The plaintiff conceded the damage, and likewise acknowledged that this condition would constitute a traffic violation. 941 F. Supp. at 53.

His complaint was that the trooper, who was parked by the side of the Interstate when the plaintiff's car drove by, could not have seen the cracked windshield, and thus stopped him on a pretext.

In entering summary judgment for the trooper on the plaintiff's claim as to the legitimacy of the stop, the district court explained that the "undisputed existence of the cracked windshield forecloses any argument as to the legitimacy of the stop." Id.