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State v. Filip Danney

March 1, 2012


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. The Honorable Michael R. McLaughlin, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Trout, Justice Pro Tem.

2012 Opinion No. 34

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

This appeal comes before this Court on a Petition for Review from a decision of the Court of Appeals. Filip Danney appeals from the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence of drugs obtained through the use of a drug dog during a traffic stop. On appeal, Danney argues that the district court erred in determining that: (1) a proper foundation was laid for the admission of Global Positioning System (GPS) data used in his prosecution; (2) reasonable suspicion existed to justify the warrantless extension of his traffic stop; and (3) the government's placement of a GPS device constituted an impermissible warrantless search. Because we agree that the officer had a reasonable articulable suspicion of possible criminal activity justifying the limited detention of Danney for purposes of a drug dog search, we affirm the district court's decision.


At the suppression hearing, Ada County Detective Matt Taddicken testified that in March, 2007, based upon an anonymous tip he had received, he was investigating Danney's possible connection to a marijuana trafficking ring. Following up on this information, Taddicken went to Danney's house and searched his discarded trash on several occasions. He eventually discovered items bearing the name "Filip Vogelpohl" (Danney's alias), a tissue or paper towel bearing marijuana residue,*fn1 a heat-sealed bag, and several sections that appeared to be cut from similar bags. On approximately May 16, 2007, Taddicken testified that he located a truck registered to Danney parked outside Danney's business, Boise Art Glass, and attached a GPS tracking device to the vehicle's underside. The GPS allowed Taddicken to monitor the location of the truck via an online program, and on May 21, 2007, he noticed that Danney's vehicle was in and around Arcata, Humboldt County, California. Taddicken testified at the suppression hearing that, based on his prior training and experience, Arcata is a known source city for Boise area marijuana. The next day, Taddicken noticed that Danney's vehicle was travelling back toward Boise. He contacted Ada County Deputy Matthew Clifford when Danney's vehicle was entering Boise and told Clifford that the vehicle may be carrying drugs. At that time, Clifford was on patrol and had with him his drug detection dog, Shad.

Upon observing Danney fail to signal for five seconds before changing lanes on two occasions, Clifford initiated a traffic stop and called for a backup officer. Clifford identified Danney and asked where he was coming from, to which Danney responded that he was coming from a sandwich shop and was on a "lunch break."*fn2 After obtaining Danney's documentation, Clifford returned to his patrol car and called Taddicken to discuss Taddicken's suspicions of drug activity. Approximately six minutes into the stop, the backup officer arrived and Clifford deployed his drug dog to sniff the vehicle. The dog alerted, and a subsequent search of Danney's vehicle revealed marijuana.

Danney was charged with felony trafficking in marijuana under Idaho Code § 37- 2732B(a)(1). He filed a motion to suppress "any evidence obtained by the State through the search of the Defendant's vehicle during an alleged traffic stop on May 22, 2007, along with any evidence obtained by the State as a result of the information obtained in that illegal search," on the basis that the warrantless extension of the stop was not justified by a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. At the suppression hearing, Danney objected repeatedly to Taddicken's testimony about information he received from the GPS device, arguing that the State did not lay a proper foundation. The district court admitted the GPS evidence and denied the motion to suppress, concluding that "Officer Clifford and Detective Taddicken had a collective knowledge of articulable facts supporting a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in trafficking marijuana." Danney then entered a conditional guilty plea, preserving his right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. Danney timely appealed, and the case was assigned to the Idaho Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court's denial of the motion to suppress. This Court granted Danney's Petition for Review.


On appeal, Danney raised a number of issues which can be distilled to three specific challenges: (1) whether there was a proper foundation for the GPS data; (2) whether the officers had a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity; and (3) whether the placement of the GPS device constituted a warrantless search. For the reasons which follow, we determine that the only issue which needs to be addressed is the second issue raised.


When reviewing a Court of Appeals decision, this Court directly reviews the decision of the lower court but gives serious consideration to the views of the Court of Appeals. State v. Hansen, 151 Idaho 342, 345, 256 P.3d 750, 753 (2011). In reviewing an order denying a motion to suppress evidence, this Court applies a bifurcated standard of review. State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 (2009). This Court will accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous but will freely review the trial court's application of constitutional principles to the facts found. Id. Findings of ...

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