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State v. Fenton

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 29, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LARRY GLENN FENTON JR., Defendant-Respondent.

         2017 Opinion No. 48

         Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District, State of Idaho, Nez Perce County. Hon. Jay P. Gaskill, District Judge.

         Order granting motion to suppress, reversed and case remanded.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Russell J. Spencer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Russell J. Spencer argued.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Reed P. Anderson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for respondent. Reed P. Anderson argued.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge.

         The State of Idaho appeals from the district court's order granting Larry Glenn Fenton Jr.'s motion to suppress, arguing that the district court erred by failing to correctly apply the doctrine of attenuation to the specific facts of this case. For the reasons set forth below we reverse and remand.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On April 20, 2015, Fenton signed a probation agreement. The second clause of this agreement states, "During any contact with law enforcement personnel the defendant shall provide his identity, notify the law enforcement officer(s) that he is under supervision and provide the name of his supervising [probation officer]." The eleventh clause further provides that Fenton "shall consent to the search of his person, residence, vehicle, personal property and other real property" by his probation officer or other law enforcement officer, waiving his Fourth Amendment rights as applied to these searches.

         On February 28, 2016, Fenton was driving a vehicle that was seen leaving a parking lot known for drug activity. The police officer following Fenton called in his license plate as "Idaho plate 180728, " which did not yield any results because dispatch ran the number with the incorrect county designation.[1] Because the officer was about 100 yards away from the vehicle, he asked dispatch to run the plate as 18072B, believing that perhaps he was misreading a B as an 8. This also yielded no results. After catching up with the vehicle, the officer provided the correct county designation. The officer did not receive a response to this third attempt at running the plates until after he had already completed the traffic stop.

         Though the officer initiated the stop in order to address concerns regarding the registration, he concluded the stop by issuing two citations to Fenton. The first was for lack of a driver's license, and the second was for lack of proof of insurance. After the officer handed Fenton one of the citations, Fenton volunteered that he was on probation. The officer asked Fenton who his probation officer was, to which Fenton responded with a name that alerted the officer that Fenton was on felony probation. The officer returned to his patrol car and, following standard procedure, called the probation officer, relaying to the probation officer the facts leading up to the stop and the subsequent citations. Upon returning to Fenton's vehicle, the officer gave Fenton the second citation, thus concluding the traffic stop. The officer then informed Fenton that the probation officer was coming to speak with Fenton and that the probation officer wanted Fenton to stand by. When the probation officer arrived, she had Fenton step out of the vehicle and sit on the sidewalk. The probation officer then requested the officer's assistance in conducting a search of the vehicle. The officer found methamphetamine in the vehicle.

         The State charged Fenton with trafficking in methamphetamine. Fenton moved to suppress the evidence acquired during the probation search, claiming that both his traffic stop and probation search were unlawful. The district court held a hearing on the suppression motion and then granted Fenton's suppression motion on the ground that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop. The State moved for reconsideration based on the doctrine of attenuation. The district court ...


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