Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Appellee, Richard Raymond Dixon, was stopped for an alleged traffic violation. After an extensive search, officers found methamphetamine on the passenger who was in the car with appellee. Appellee was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which was granted by the trial court. The state appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. A confidential informant told officers about a residence which contained drugs. While officers were conducting a search of that residence, the owner, who was subsequently arrested, told them that appellee had two eight-balls of methamphetamine. As a result of this information, officers were called to initiate surveillance of appellee’s place of business. The officers observed appellee and a female companion driving away from the business, so the officers followed. The officers observed appellee make a right-hand turn from a designated right-turn-only lane without signaling the turn. They continued following appellee for more than a mile and observed him making a left-hand turn from a designated left-turn-only lane without signaling the turn. After following appellee for 3.2 miles after they first observed him make an unsignaled turn, the officers pulled him over. They informed him that they had pulled him over for a traffic violation and asked to search his car. Appellee gave them consent, and they searched the car and found nothing. They then searched appellee and the passenger and found nothing. Next, they waited for the drug dog. The drug dog arrived and sniffed appellee and the passenger and found nothing. The officers then called for a female officer to conduct a more extensive search of the passenger. The female officer searched the passenger’s underwear and found three baggies of methamphetamine. Appellee was charged with possession of the methamphetamine found in the passenger’s underwear. The passenger was also arrested and pleaded guilty to the possession. Appellee filed a motion to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop. The trial court held a hearing in which both parties discussed the evidence, but the court did not hear testimony from the officers. The trial court granted the motion to suppress the evidence. HOLDING:Affirmed. The decision of the court of appeals focuses on the time and distance between the unsignaled turn and the stop. The court of appeals held that the trial court suppressed the evidence because it concluded that the 3.2-mile delay between the alleged traffic violation and the stop was not within a reasonable time or distance. Although no witnesses testified at the hearing, the record shows that the parties agreed about the facts and the sequence of events that occurred surrounding the traffic stop and search. Because the record supports the trial court’s decision to suppress the evidence, the court of appeals affirmed the judgment. While the court of appeals may have unnecessarily focused on the distance and time the police followed the driver before pulling appellee over, the court properly determined that it was within the discretion of the trial judge to decide whether to believe the officers’ claim that they pulled appellee over for a traffic offense. The trial judge believed the turns made by appellee were lawful, so no traffic violation was committed and the stop was not valid. Because the trial court did not believe that an offense had occurred, the evidence was obtained as a result of an unlawful stop. The record supports the trial court’s conclusion that the search was not conducted pursuant to a valid traffic stop, and the evidence was properly suppressed, the court concludes. OPINION:Meyers, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Price, Johnson, Hervey, and Cochran, JJ., joined. Holcomb, J., concurred. Womack, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Keller, PJ, and Keasler, J., joined. DISSENT:Womack, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Keller, PJ, and Keasler, J., joined. “As the Court’s opinion points out . . . the Court of Appeals’ opinion fell into the ditch by attributing more importance to the issue of the officers’ delay in stopping the appellant than the record will bear. I fear that this Court’s opinion may be running into the ditch on the other side of the road. . . . “The case well could turn on a conclusion of law, not a finding of fact. The question could be resolved easily by a remand to the trial court.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.