from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Richard S. Christensen,
granting motion to suppress, affirmed.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Kenneth K.
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Kimberly A.
Coster, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
respondent. Kimberly A. Coster argued.
GRATTON, CHIEF JUDGE.
State appeals from the district court's order granting
Cora Lee Burgess's motion to suppress evidence found
inside her vehicle subsequent to a traffic stop. The State
argues the district court erred in ruling the police
abandoned the purpose of the initial traffic stop by
unlawfully prolonging the stop to verify the passenger's
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
before midnight, officers stopped Burgess's vehicle for
failing to stop before entering a roadway. One officer
approached Burgess's side of the vehicle and after
calling in the stop, another officer approached the passenger
side. The officers talked with Burgess and her passenger for
approximately three minutes, gathering identifications,
licenses, vehicle registration, and insurance. Burgess had
recently purchased the vehicle and had yet to get insurance.
As the officers were gathering information, a third officer
arrived. After collecting the information from Burgess and
the passenger, the initiating officer asked if either was on
probation and both responded in the negative. The officers
then returned to their patrol car to check Burgess's
information and her passenger's information using the
video recording of the traffic stop shows that within a
minute, the computer announced a separate "return"
for each person, relating to warrant and driving status.
Burgess's record check was completed. However, instead of
beginning the citation process, the officers waited another
"minute or two" in order for dispatch to verify the
passenger's probationary status. After receiving a
negative probation response as to the passenger, one officer
walked to the vehicle and requested that Burgess exit the
vehicle while the officer prepared a citation for failure to
have insurance. As Burgess exited the vehicle, the other
officer approached the vehicle and began questioning the
passenger. Five minutes later, just as Burgess was being
handed her citation, the passenger door was opened, the
passenger stepped out, and was handcuffed. The passenger had
admitted, during that time, to having drugs and
paraphernalia. Burgess was then instructed to "hang
back" while the situation with the passenger was
resolved. Thereafter, Burgess consented to a search of the
vehicle. A clutch containing contraband was found within the
vehicle. Burgess was charged with possession of
filed a motion to suppress all evidence, arguing that her
detention was unreasonably prolonged by police in violation
of the Constitutions of the United States and state of
Idaho. In her motion, Burgess argued her
detention was unlawfully prolonged twice. First, when the
officer abandoned the initial purpose of the traffic stop and
detoured to investigate the passenger. Second, when the
officer restricted her from leaving the scene after issuing
her ticket as the passenger's backpack was searched. The
district court identified the dispositive issue as
"whether delaying moving forward with a traffic stop is
lawful in order to verify a passenger's probation
status." The district court granted the motion to
suppress, ruling that the officers abandoned the purpose of
the stop when they waited for dispatch to verify the
passenger's probationary status and that the detour
unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop. The State timely
standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated.
When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we
accept the trial court's findings of fact that are
supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the
application of constitutional principles to the facts as
found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916
P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing,
the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve
factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual
inferences is vested in the trial ...