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Case Name: Marquez-Guitierrez v. State
Citation: 2007 WY 155
Docket Number: 06-117
Appeal from the
Representing Appellant (Defendant): D. Terry Rogers, State Public Defender; and Donna D. Domonkos, Appellate Counsel. Argument by Ms. Domonkos.
Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Patrick J. Crank, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Paul S. Rehurek, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Rehurek.
Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress the evidence when he was illegally detained and there was no reasonable suspicion to detain him until he consented to a search of his vehicle.
Facts/Discussion: After approximately 180 pounds of marijuana was discovered in the van in which he was a passenger, Appellant was arrested. A jury found him guilty on three counts of drug-related charges.
Standard of Review: The Court will not disturb a ruling on a motion to suppress absent a clear abuse of discretion.
Appellant claims that the Trooper impermissibly expanded the scope of the traffic stop, that the consent to search was tainted by the illegal detention and that these errors violated both the federal and state constitutions.
State Constitutional Analysis: Article 1, § 4 of the Wyoming Constitution requires searches and seizures to be reasonable under all of the circumstances. The Court must analyze the reasonableness of the detention under all of the circumstances, and whether or not the trooper had reasonable suspicion to justify the intrusive measures used. The district court held that the detention was reasonable in the instant case because the observations made by the trooper supported his reasonable suspicion and allowed the continued detention. The Court agreed and noted their statement in Marinaro v. State that during the course of a legal detention of an individual, law enforcement officers may pose questions to that person that are unrelated to the underlying purpose of the seizure and that are not independently justified by reasonable suspicion. From the Court’s review of the record, the Court concluded that the district court’s conclusion was supported by the evidence presented. Although any of the circumstances alone may not have justified the detention, all of them together support the conclusion the Trooper had reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity was afoot. Appellant substantially relied on O’Boyle which the Court noted was distinguishable in the case “both by the extensiveness of the questioning and the absence of a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.”
Appellant argued that his consent to the search of his vehicle was involuntary because it was preceded by an unlawful detention. The argument failed because the Court had already held that the detention prior to consent was lawful. The consent to search was given by the driver, not Appellant. It was apparent from the facts in the record and the testimony from the driver at the suppression hearing, that no constitutional violation had occurred.
Federal Constitutional Analysis: In determining whether a traffic stop detention was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, the Court applied the two-part Terry stop inquiry: whether the initial stop was justified and whether the officer’s actions during the detention were reasonably related to the circumstances. The initial stop was not challenged so the Court focused on whether the trooper’s actions were reasonably related in scope to the circumstances. The Court was guided by the principles delineated in O’Boyle. They concluded the scope of the detention initially was appropriately tailored to the reason for the stop.
Holding: It was apparent from the facts in the record and the testimony from the driver at the suppression hearing, that no state constitutional violation had occurred. Based on the record the Court concluded the detention did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
J. Hill delivered the opinion.
Link: http://tinyurl.com/2s6t7p .