280 A.2d 816 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1971), State v. Anonymous (1971-20)

Citation:280 A.2d 816, 6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 583
Opinion Judge:JACOBS, Judge.
Party Name:STATE of Connecticut v. ANONYMOUS (1971-20). [*]
Judge Panel:JACOBS,
Court:Circuit Court of Connecticut

Page 816

280 A.2d 816 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1971)

6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 583

STATE of Connecticut


ANONYMOUS (1971-20). [*]

Circuit Court of Connecticut.


Page 817

JACOBS, Judge.

This is a three-count information charging the defendant with (1) failure to keep drugs in original container (General Statutes [6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 584] § 19-464); (2) illegal possession of controlled drugs (§ 19-481(b)); and (3) reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian (§ 53-182).

The question raised by the motion to suppress (§ 54-33f) falls into the category of 'stop and frisk' cases which has a background of controversy and inconsistent judicial treatment. The words 'stop' and 'frisk' are convenient ways of describing certain limited intrusions. 1

The United States Supreme Court for the first time confronted the 'stop and frisk' issue in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889; Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 20 L.Ed.2d 917; and Peters v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 88 S.Ct. 1912, 20 L.Ed.2d 917. 2 In Terry, the anticipated crime was armed robbery; in Peters it was burglary-both serious offenses and not infrequently attended by violence; in Sibron, on the other hand, the anticipated crime involved possession of narcotics.

'Stop and frisk' has been referred to as a 'low visibility' police procedure, and it was so characterized in Sibron v. New York, supra, 392 U.S. 52, 88 S.Ct. 1889. Stop and frisk practices were investigated by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, which recommended that state legislatures enact statutory provisions prescribing the authority of law enforcement officers to stop persons for brief questioning. 3 The National Advisory Commission[6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 585] on Civil Disorders agreed that guidelines for 'field interrogation' and its incidents were needed and that it was imperative for police and others to distinguish legitimate investigative procedures from somewhat similar actions of dubious legality and efficacy (often called 'aggressive preventive patrol'). 4

Page 818

In Sibron v. United State, supra, the court said (p. 59, 88 S.Ct. p. 1901): 'The constitutional validity of a warrantless search is pre-eminently the sort of question which can only be decided in the concrete factual context of the individual case.'

The facts in the instant case are as follows: The state trooper who stopped the defendant had no arrest or search warrant. At the time, the officer had no knowledge of specific narcotic offenses or similar violations in the vicinity. The multiple-lane limited-access highway on which the trooper was driving is, in the vicinity in question, used exclusively for passenger motor vehicles; no commercial or pedestrian traffic is allowed in the area. As the trooper was proceeding northbound in the police cruiser, he 'observed the accused crossing the southbound lane * * * he was crossing the lanes, and he went on the median divider.' The officer testified, 'When he (the accused) got on the median divider, he crossed the guardrail, he crossed over; then, he crossed the northbound lanes.' The officer thereupon pulled his vehicle over to the right-hand shoulder of the northbound lane and got out of his cruiser. He was about twenty to twenty-five feet from the defendant. The officer 'called him over,' and asked him what he was 'doing out there, there is (sic) no pedestrians allowed out there, and running across the highway is reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian.' The defendant stated that [6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 586] he 'just hitchhiked from Massachusetts.' The officer asked the defendant to produce some form of identification, but he 'didn't have any.' He said he 'lost it.' The officer testified, 'I was going to issue (the defendant) a summons for reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian, but he had no identification.' The defendant was told 'to place his hands on the hood of the (police) car.' The officer 'patted him down for weapons.' No weapons were uncovered. The 'patting-down' did uncover narcotics.

On oral argument, the defendant conceded that the officer had probable cause to arrest him for illegal use of the highway; however, the claim was made that the officer did not have the right 'to make this intrusive kind of search that he did...

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