Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sumamry 2009 WY 18

Summary of Decision issued February 12, 2009

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Shaw v. State

Citation: 2009 WY 18

Docket Number: S-08-0055

Appeal from the District Court of Carbon County, the Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge.

Representing Appellant Shaw: Diane M. Lozano, Wyoming State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel; and Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee State: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Leta M. Pojman, Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: Shaw entered a conditional plea of guilty to felony possession of marijuana. The condition was that he be given leave to appeal the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence seized from his car by a Wyoming State Trooper.

Propriety of the Search and Seizure: In Speten v. State the Court described the analytical framework for evaluating issues such as in the instant case. The issue of the constitutionality of a search often focuses upon the question of whether or not the officer had probable cause to search, or reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigative detention. These cases are fact intensive and the Court considers the totality of the circumstances. The case began as a consensual encounter when the trooper stopped to aid Shaw who was stuck in deep snow. The trooper asked to see Shaw’s driver’s license which did not invoke any of the protections provided by the U.S. Constitution or the Wyoming Constitution. Once it was determined that Shaw had been driving, but had no driver’s license, the initial consensual encounter came to resemble a traffic stop or investigative detention. Little time passed from when the trooper realized Shaw had no license until she found the marijuana in the car. The trooper received permission from Shaw to look for proof of insurance and registration in the car. The district court concluded that the trooper had a legal right to enter the vehicle pursuant to Shaw’s consent. Once she entered the vehicle and smelled the marijuana, she possessed the requisite probable cause to search the vehicle for contraband. The district court concluded the marijuana was admissible at trial. Given that the Court could not find evidence in the record that Shaw’s consent was not knowing and voluntary, it was persuaded the district court’s findings were not clearly erroneous.

Conclusion: The Court held that Shaw’s consent for the trooper to enter his car was dispositive and declined to address the matter of inevitable discovery of the contraband during the inventory process.


J. Hill delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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