Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summary 2013 WY 103

Summary of Decision August 29, 2013

Justice Davis delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-12-0271


Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County the Honorable Dan R. Price II, Judge

Representing Appellant: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; David E. Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel; Wyoming Public Defender Program. Argument by Mr. Westling.

Representing Appellee: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy
Attorney General; Theodore R. Racines, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Prof. Darrell D. Jackson, Faculty Director; Emily N. Thomas, Student Director; and Courtney Gilbert, Student Intern, of the Prosecution Assistance Clinic. Argument by Ms. Gilbert.

Date of Decision: August 29, 2013

Facts: Appellant Ralph Laverne Hunnicutt-Carter entered a conditional plea to a charge of felony possession of methamphetamine, thereby reserving the right to appeal the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress the results of a vehicle inventory which yielded the methamphetamine. Appellant contends that impoundment of the vehicle was unnecessary under the circumstances, and that the search was conducted in bad faith. He also claims that police officers should be required to inquire into less intrusive means of safeguarding a vehicle before inventorying one in anticipation of impoundment.

Issues: Did the district court err in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress the results of an inventory search preceding the planned impoundment of a vehicle but after its driver had been arrested?

Holdings: We hold that inventory of a vehicle’s contents pending impoundment is constitutional when it is authorized by statute or when it is conducted pursuant to the general policy of a law enforcement agency. In this case, a state trooper had both a statutory basis to impound a vehicle whose driver had been arrested, and he was also required to inventory the vehicle’s contents before impounding it by a general Wyoming Highway Patrol policy. We also find that the district court’s ruling that the trooper acted in good faith is supported by the record and is not therefore clearly erroneous. The district court did not err in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress, and the judgment and sentence of the district court are therefore affirmed.

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

[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. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

No comments:

Check out our tags in a cloud (from Wordle)!