271 F.3d 1262 (10th Cir. 2001), 00-3365, US v. Williams

Docket Nº:00-3365
Citation:271 F.3d 1262
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, vs. DALLAS WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:November 28, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Page 1262

271 F.3d 1262 (10th Cir. 2001)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,


DALLAS WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 00-3365

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

November 28, 2001


Page 1263

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1264

Submitted on the briefs:[*]

James E. Flory, United States Attorney and Lanny D. Welch, Assistant United States Attorney, Wichita, Kansas, for Plaintiff - Appellee.

Daniel E. Monnat, Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, Wichita, Kansas, for Defendant - Appellant.

Before KELLY and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges and STAGG[**], District Judge.

PAUL KELLY, Jr., Circuit Judge.

Defendant-Appellant Dallas Williams appeals from the denial of his motion to suppress pursuant to a conditional plea. He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute approximately 230 pounds of marijuana, and sentenced to thirty-seven months in prison and a three-year term of supervised release. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and we affirm.


On April 22, 2000, at approximately 2:15 p.m., Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Mitch Nollette stopped Mr. Williams for going seventy-six miles per hour in a seventy mile per hour speed zone. The officer, traveling westbound on Interstate 70, had used radar to clock Mr. Williams, who

Page 1265

was traveling eastbound in a Lincoln Town Car. The officer approached the car and spoke with Mr. Williams, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle. The officer explained to Mr. Williams that he had stopped him for speeding and asked to see his license. Mr. Williams produced an Illinois driver's license that showed Mr. Williams to be a resident of Chicago. The officer noticed at the outset of the stop that Mr. Williams exhibited "exceptional or extreme" nervousness. In making his assessment of Mr. Williams' nervousness, the officer noted that Mr. Williams spoke with a trembling voice, his upper lip would "twitch somewhat" when the officer asked a question, and his hand shook visibly when he presented his driver's license to the officer. The officer noted that Mr. Williams' nervousness never dissipated throughout the entire stop. During this initial approach to the car, the officer also observed a "walkie-talkie" type radio on the front passenger seat, several packs of cigarettes in the front interior, and a green duffle bag in the back seat. The officer recognized the radio as one commonly sold and which had a range of only one to two miles.

While handing his license to the officer, Mr. Williams stated that the car was a rental and provided the rental agreement for the car to the officer. Id. at 233. At some point during this initial approach, but while still holding the license and rental agreement, the officer inquired as to Mr. Williams' travel plans. Mr. Williams told the officer that although his sister was from Chicago, she had traveled from Chicago to Kansas City with a friend. Mr. Williams explained that his family was having an Easter gathering the following day in Denver, and due to his sister's fear of flying, he was driving to Kansas City to pick her up and bring her to Denver.

The officer brought the materials back to his patrol car and ran a routine check to ensure the license was valid, which it was. Mr. Williams' name, however, appeared nowhere on the rental agreement for the vehicle. Instead, the rental agreement contained only the name "Steve Snobl" as a lessee and indicated that the vehicle had been rented in Phoenix, Arizona. When the officer returned to the vehicle and questioned Mr. Williams about the discrepancy on the rental agreement, he explained that Steve Snobl was his uncle and had lent the car to him for the purpose of picking up his sister. Despite the officer's indication in his testimony that Mr. Williams' nervousness, possession of a radio commonly used by people driving in tandem, unusual travel plans, and lack of authority to be in possession of the rental car caused him to be suspicious, the officer returned the license and rental agreement to Mr. Williams. In addition, the officer said something to the effect of, "Thanks a lot. We'll see you." The officer then, however, asked Mr. Williams if he would mind answering a few additional questions, to which he agreed.

The officer first asked Mr. Williams whether he was carrying any contraband or large amounts of cash to which he stated that he was not. The officer then asked if he could search the car and Mr. Williams refused. At that point, the officer informed Mr. Williams that he would detain him there until a canine unit could come and sniff the outside of the car. At around 2:30 p.m., approximately fifteen minutes after the initial stop, the canine unit arrived and eventually alerted to the trunk area of the vehicle. After obtaining the keys and opening the trunk, the officer discovered several large bales of marijuana. The officer then placed Mr. Williams under arrest, and, after giving his Miranda rights, questioned him about any other individuals with whom he was traveling. Mr. Williams told the officer that he was traveling with other individuals who were

Page 1266

driving a Jeep Cherokee. Another officer later located the other vehicle at a nearby restaurant and found a walkie-talkie type radio of the same type as that possessed by Mr. Williams in a trash can.

In what it labeled a "close call," the district court found that the officer in this case had sufficient reasonable suspicion to detain Mr. Williams for the canine sniff of the car. The district court was persuaded by the officer's descriptions of Mr. Williams' extreme nervousness. The district court found further that the officer's suspicions stemming from Mr. Williams' possession of the radio and lack of authority to be in possession of the rental car were entitled to deference in light of the officer's experience in detecting criminal activity. Mr. Williams filed a motion to reconsider asserting that a recent case, United States v. Holt, 229 F.3d 931 (10th Cir. 2000), vacated en banc, United States v. Holt, 264 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir. Sept. 5, 2001), required a finding that the questioning of Mr. Williams regarding his travel plans was unconstitutionally beyond the scope of the initial stop. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Holt did not affect "routine questions" about travel plans. In the alternative, the district court concluded that the discrepancy in the rental agreement provided a reasonable relationship between the questioning and the scope of the stop. On appeal, Mr. Williams argues that (1)...

To continue reading