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United States of America v. Boyd Keith Hickman

May 21, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOYD KEITH HICKMAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Defendant Boyd K. Hickman's Motion to Suppress Vehicle Search (Dkt. 17). Hickman asks the Court to suppress from introduction at trial any evidence or contraband seized from Hickman's vehicle during a traffic stop search of his vehicle on June 11, 2011. Hickman maintains that the officer did not have probable cause to conduct the search, and any consent given was not voluntary. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion to suppress.

BACKGROUND

On June 11, 2011, Idaho State Trooper Corporal Vance Cox pulled over Defendant Hickman for a suspected window tint violation. The stop was made at 9:33 a.m. on Interstate 15, in Jefferson County. Most of the stop was recorded on video.

Upon stopping Hickman, Officer Cox noted that Hickman's eyes were "watery" and "very bloodshot," and he was "fidgety" and breathing heavily. The window tint check showed only 15% total light transmitted on the front passenger side -- a violation of Idaho law. While running the driver's check on Hickman, Officer Cox notice a faint odor of marijuana on Hickman's driver's license. Based on these observations, Officer Cox asked Hickman to exit his vehicle and submit to field sobriety testing. Officer Cox also inquired about a blanket that covered Hickman's lap. In response, Hickman removed the blanket, revealing that his pants were pulled down to the middle of his thigh. Hickman asked to put them back on before exiting the car. Hickman did so, and exited the vehicle to conduct the field sobriety tests.

After administering the field sobriety tests, Officer Cox determined that he had not seen enough indicators of intoxication and discontinued the DUI investigation. The trooper then noted in his report that he turned his emergency lights from 360 degrees to rear flashers, and then handed Hickman's paperwork back to Hickman. Upon returning Hickman's paperwork, Officer Cox told Hickman that he would not charge him with a DUI, and Hickman was free to go.

After telling Hickman he was free to go, Officer Cox immediately launched into questioning Hickman about his bloodshot eyes and the faint marijuana smell on his driver's license:

. . . not going to do anything on the DUI, okay, you're free to go. I just want to ask you where you've got the bloodshot eyes, I see some indications -- at one point your license has been around marijuana. I'm not saying you've used but someone has because the odor's on there.

Transcript at 1, Ex. 1 to Gov't's Resp. Br., Dkt. 21-1. Hickman explained in response to Officer Cox's question that his roommate had a prescription for medical marijuana, but Hickman denied having any marijuana in his car.

Despite Hickman's denial, Officer Cox continued to question Hickman, telling him that he could call for a drug dog:

I usually have to have a dog come up and go around the car and see if he indicates anything. Understand, if a dog did come up here I'd much rather you tell me before a dog hits on anything in your car.

Id. Hickman again denied having marijuana in his car, and Officer Cox again indicated that he could call for a drug dog. He also suggested that it would be faster if Hickman told him whether he had any marijuana:

"It'd save us some time, not sure if this guy has a dog or not, to save us some time if here is anything, I'd ...


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