Woman Wins $77K in Traffic-Stop Suit

Texas Law Shield alerts our members to a recent $77,500 settlement between the Panhandle town of Estelline and Laura Dutton, who had $29,000 confiscated from her during a traffic stop two years ago.

The 64-year-old Dutton’s federal suit filed last year alleged that the cities of Estelline and Memphis, former Officer Jayson Fry, and Memphis Police Chief Chris Jolly violated her Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure when she was arrested Nov. 28, 2012, in Estelline on a felony money laundering charge.

Estelline ‘speed trap’ settles missing cash suit

She told officers the cash came from a recent property sale, and no drugs were found during the search.

No gun was mentioned in the settlement, but our members often ask us in seminars how to react to traffic stops when they’re carrying and not carrying firearms. In particular, they want to know what to do if an officer asks to search your vehicle.

In broad terms, we tell our members that they usually have a right to refuse a search of their vehicles, depending on the circumstances. But we also point out that police will often react poorly to a denial, and you’ve got to be prepared for a big delay if you refuse.

Estelline is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 287 and State Highway 87 in east central Hall County, about 14 miles southeast of Memphis and 15 miles northwest of Childress. The nearest major city is Amarillo, located 102 miles northwest.

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