X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Police arrested Adam Troy Griffin for possessing a small amount of residue cocaine in a “long plastic tube” about two days before the incident. The legality of that arrest is not at issue in this case. One or two days later, a confidential informant whom the police considered reliable provided the police with information that appellant was selling crack cocaine at a specific location in a part of town known for drug trafficking. About five minutes later, three law enforcement officers Wesley Kingsley, Rick Eskelin and Tom Hamilton went to that location, a public area, and saw appellant. They did not observe appellant engaged in any overt criminal activity, but they knew that appellant carried narcotics in tubes and that appellant had been arrested a day or two before for possessing cocaine in a “long plastic tube.” The police then stopped and detained appellant to investigate whether he was selling crack cocaine. Appellant acted nervous when he saw the police approaching him. The police did not believe that probable cause existed for appellant’s arrest at this time; but, they did stop and detain appellant to investigate the information provided by the informant. Eskelin immediately frisked the outside of appellant’s left front pocket for officer safety and felt two long cylindrical tubes, which Eskelin believed contained illegal narcotics based on his knowledge that Griffin carried illegal narcotics in tubes. When Eskelin felt these tubes in Griffin’s pocket, he instructed Hamilton to handcuff appellant. As Hamilton handcuffed appellant, Eskelin removed the tubes from Griffin’s pocket and confirmed that they contained numerous rocks of crack cocaine. The trial court denied Griffin’s motion to suppress. The 10th Court of Appeals decided on direct appeal that the initial investigatory detention of Griffin was based on reasonable suspicion; that the police were justified in frisking appellant for weapons; that the warrantless seizure of the crack cocaine from Griffin’s pocket during this weapons frisk was valid under the plain-feel exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement; and that appellant’s subsequent warrantless arrest did not violate any state or federal constitutional provisions or any provision of state statutory law. HOLDING:Affirmed. The CCA decided that the record supported a finding that the police reasonably suspected, based on specific and articulable facts, that Griffin was selling crack cocaine in a public place so as to justify the initial stop and detention of him by the police to further investigate his behavior. For example, the CCA stated that the police had information from a reliable informant that appellant was selling crack cocaine in a specifically described drug trafficking area of town, which is exactly where the police found appellant minutes after receiving this information. Other specific and articulable circumstances supporting a finding that the police reasonably suspected that appellant was selling crack cocaine, the CCA stated, include police knowledge of Griffin’s past illegal drug activity and Griffin’s nervousness when they approached him. But this issue is not dispositive of whether police could legally frisk the outside of Griffin’s pocket for weapons, the CCA stated. This determination is made under an objective standard which is whether the facts available to Eskelin at the time of the frisk “would warrant a reasonably cautious person to believe that the action taken was appropriate.” The CCA found that police were objectively justified in frisking appellant for weapons, stating that it is objectively reasonable for a police officer to believe that persons involved in the drug business are armed and dangerous, even when a police officer has not known a specific drug-dealer to carry weapons in the past or is not afraid of the suspect The CCA found that removal by police of the plastic tubes from Griffin’s pocket during the weapons frisk was valid. The record, the CCA stated, supports a finding that Eskelin immediately recognized the tubes in appellant’s pocket as contraband based on his knowledge that appellant used these types of containers to carry illegal narcotics. Finally, the CCA found that the record supported a finding that Griffin’s arrest in a public place was constitutionally valid because the police had probable cause to arrest appellant once police discovered the tubes in his pocket. A warrantless arrest is entirely appropriate under these circumstances, the CCA held. OPINION:Hervey, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., Meyers, Womack, Keasler, Holcomb and Cochran, J.J., joined. DISSENT:Price and Johnson, J.J., dissented without an opinion.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* 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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.