Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 13 (1996)

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next



Scalia, J., dissenting

As we recognized in Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U. S. 384 (1990), a case holding that deferential (abuse-of-discretion) review should be applied to a district court's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 determination that an attorney did not conduct a reasonable inquiry or entertain a "substantiated belief" regarding the nonfrivolousness of the complaint, see id., at 393: A district court, "[f]amiliar with the issues and litigants . . . is better situated than the court of appeals to marshal the pertinent facts and apply the fact-dependent legal standard . . . ." Id., at 402.

Moreover, as the Court acknowledges, "reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause" are "commonsense, nontechnical conceptions that deal with ' "the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act." ' " Ante, at 695 (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U. S. 213, 231 (1983) (quoting Brinegar v. United States, 338 U. S. 160, 175 (1949))). Where a trial court makes such commonsense determinations based on the totality of circumstances, it is ordinarily accorded deference. What we said in a case concerning the question whether certain payments were a "gift" excludable from income under the Internal Revenue Code is equally pertinent here.

"Decision of the issue presented in these cases must be based ultimately on the application of the fact-finding tribunal's experience with the mainsprings of human conduct to the totality of the facts of each case. The nontechnical nature of the . . . standard, the close relationship of it to the data of practical human experience, and the multiplicity of relevant factual elements, with their various combinations, creating the necessity of ascribing the proper force to each, confirm us in our conclusion that primary weight in this area must be given to the conclusions of the trier of fact." Commissioner v. Duberstein, 363 U. S. 278, 289 (1960).

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007