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State v. Jewell

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

April 21, 2015

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
LUCAS D. JEWELL, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Nodaway County, Missouri. The Honorable Glen A. Dietrich, Judge.

Robert L. Rice, Maryville, MO, for appellant.

Robert E. Sundell, Maryville, MO, for respondent.

Before Division Three: Gary D. Witt, Presiding Judge, James E. Welsh, Judge and Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Gary D. Witt, Judge

Page 865

The State brings this interlocutory appeal challenging the trial court's grant of Lucas Jewell's (" Jewell" ) motion to suppress evidence of intoxicated driving. The State asserts error in the trial court's determination that the campus police officer had no legal justification for stopping Jewell. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The facts in this case are not in dispute for purposes of this appeal. On September 15, 2013, University police officer Travis Cochenour (" Officer Cochenour" ) initiated a traffic stop at 3:29 a.m. after the officer observed a vehicle fail to stop at two different posted stop signs on campus. The vehicle turned into a parking lot, and its driver, Jewell, exited the vehicle and attempted to walk away. Jewell failed several field sobriety tests and was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He was then transported to the Nodaway County jail. The officer's probable cause for believing Jewell was intoxicated once he came into contact with the officer is not in dispute for purposes of this appeal; rather, the dispute is over the basis for the original stop. Jewell submitted to a blood-alcohol test which registered at .187. Jewell was charged in state court with running the stop signs and driving while intoxicated.

Jewell filed a motion to suppress evidence and to dismiss in which he alleged that the original stop was made without " any probable cause or other legal justification" and that " even if the Defendant failed to adhere to the campus stop sign, such was not a violation of law so as to authorize the officer to stop and arrest the Defendant." The trial court agreed. It then granted the motion to suppress and dismissed the case. This appeal follows.

Analysis

The State brings two points on appeal. First, it argues that the trial court erred in granting Jewell's motion to suppress because it erroneously held that Jewell's actions on the campus " did not constitute a criminal offense, or a violation of a county or municipal ordinance" such that " there was no legal justification for the officer to stop the suspect, or if stopped, to develop further grounds for an arrest." Second, the State argues that despite the court's erroneous interpretation of section 174.709(1),[1] the campus police officer conducted a permissible administrative stop pursuant to sections 174.120 and 174.700.

At the outset, we emphasize two arguments that the State does not make on appeal. First, the State does not argue that the stop could be justified even if Jewell's running of the stop signs was not itself unlawful, and even if the Board had not authorized the placement of the stop signs.[2]

Page 866

Instead, the State's argument on appeal proceeds on the basis that the stop was only permissible if Jewell's conduct was illegal, or violated duly enacted University regulations. Second, the State does not rely on the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that the Fourth Amendment is not violated where an officer performs a traffic stop based on an objectively reasonable, but incorrect, belief that the defendant has violated the law. Heien v. North Carolina, 135 S.Ct. 530, 540, 190 L.Ed.2d 475 (2014). Because the State has not made these arguments, we do not address them, and our opinion should not be read to foreclose such arguments in a future case.

Standard of Review

" While we must defer to the trial court's factual findings and credibility determinations in ruling on the motion to suppress, we review questions of law de novo." State v. Carr, 441 S.W.3d 166, 168 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014) (citations omitted). The issue of whether or not the Fourth Amendment ...


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