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State v. Scott

November 23, 2010

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MATTHEW GILBERT SCOTT, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonner County. Hon. John T. Mitchell, District Judge. Hon. Michael Griffin, Magistrate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Walters, Judge Pro Tem

2010 Opinion No. 77

Decision of the district court affirming the magistrate's order granting motion to suppress, reversed and remanded.

The State appeals the district court's decision affirming the magistrate's order granting a motion to suppress evidence. The magistrate suppressed evidence that Matthew Gilbert Scott was driving under the influence of alcohol because the city police officer obtained the evidence after stopping Scott's vehicle outside the city limits. We reverse and remand.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On December 29, 2007, at 1:40 a.m. in Sandpoint, Idaho, Officer Hagstrom of the Sandpoint Police Department pulled up behind Scott's pickup at a stop sign. It was snowing heavily and the roads were slick. Officer Hagstrom thought Scott excessively accelerated away from the stop sign. The pickup had weight in it and had no trouble accelerating or traveling on the snow-covered roads. Officer Hagstrom verified with radar that Scott was traveling 32 mph in a 25 mph speed zone. Approximately one-eighth of a mile after Hagstrom verified that Scott was speeding, Scott left the city limits of Sandpoint. One mile beyond the city limits of Sandpoint, after Scott turned off the highway onto Syringa Road, Officer Hagstrom turned on his overhead lights and stopped Scott. During the course of the stop, Officer Hagstrom discovered Scott had a suspended driver's license and he suspected that Scott was intoxicated. Scott took a field sobriety test, which he failed, and was arrested. He also gave a breath sample to test his blood alcohol content, with results of 0.105 and 0.114. Officer Hagstrom cited Scott with driving under the influence, second offense, Idaho Code § 18-8004, and driving without privileges, I.C. § 18-8001.

Scott filed a motion to suppress the evidence of his intoxication because it was obtained outside of Officer Hagstrom's jurisdictional authority. At the hearing on Scott's motion to suppress, Officer Hagstrom testified that after he suspected Scott's vehicle was speeding, while still stopped, he first verified with radar that Scott's vehicle was speeding. He then attempted to catch up to Scott's vehicle, but he had difficulty catching up to the pickup in the snow because he was driving a rear-wheel-drive patrol car. Officer Hagstrom testified that to reduce the chances of the suspect fleeing, he was trained to wait and activate his lights only when he was close to the vehicle. He stated that Scott's vehicle was better suited for the road conditions and he did not want to activate his overhead lights from too far away and give Scott an opportunity to escape. He testified that his first opportunity to activate his overhead lights and conduct a traffic stop was when the vehicle had turned onto Syringa Road. Scott's testimony did not dispute any of the facts presented by Officer Hagstrom and, on cross-examination, Officer Hagstrom was not impeached.

Although the State argued that the officer was in fresh pursuit of Scott when he left his jurisdiction, the magistrate disagreed. The magistrate concluded that Officer Hagstrom was not in fresh pursuit but was only "following" Scott, because of the delay in stopping Scott until the vehicles were approximately one mile outside the city limits of Sandpoint. The magistrate held:

In this case, if the officer had turned his emergency lights on while both he and the defendant's vehicle were within the city limits of Sandpoint (there was ample opportunity to do that), the officer could be fairly said to be "pursuing" the defendant and the defendant would be put on notice that he was being "pursued" and being ordered to stop his vehicle. In this case the officer did not turn on his emergency lights, nor in any other way indicate to the defendant that he was "pursuing" him and ordering him to stop, until they were approximately one mile outside the city limits. The court concludes that while the officer was "following" the defendant's vehicle he was not in "pursuit" of that vehicle.

The magistrate ordered suppression of the evidence. The district court affirmed the magistrate's decision. The State appeals.

II. DISCUSSION

On review of a decision of the district court, rendered in its appellate capacity, we review the decision of the district court directly. Losser v. Bradstreet, 145 Idaho 670, 672, 183 P.3d 758, 760 (2008); State v. DeWitt, 145 Idaho 709, 711, 184 P.3d 215, 217 (Ct. App. 2008). We examine the magistrate record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. Id. If those findings are so supported and the conclusions follow therefrom and if the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, we affirm the district court's decision as a matter of procedure. Id. Over questions of law, we exercise free review. State v. O'Neill, 118 Idaho 244, 245, 796 P.2d 121, 122 (1990).

The State argues that the magistrate erred in finding that Officer Hagstrom was not in fresh pursuit of Scott before stopping him outside the Sandpoint city limits. Two provisions of the Idaho Code authorize police officers to pursue offenders of the law outside of their jurisdiction. Idaho Code § 50-209 authorizes city police officers that are in fresh pursuit to arrest the suspect outside of their jurisdiction.*fn1 Additionally, I.C. § 67-2337(2) provides officers in fresh pursuit the same authority outside their jurisdiction as they have inside their jurisdiction.*fn2

While both I.C. ยงยง 50-209 and 67-2337(2) authorize officers to pursue a suspect beyond their jurisdiction, the sections reference chapter 7, title 19, Idaho Code, to define ...


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