65 N.E.3d 335 (Ohio Mun. 2016), 2016 TRC 09893, City of Cleveland v. Buford

Docket Nº:2016 TRC 09893
Citation:65 N.E.3d 335
Opinion Judge:Emanuella Groves, Judge.
Party Name:CITY OF CLEVELAND, Plaintiff v. MICHAEL BUFORD, Defendant
Attorney:Assistant City Prosecutor Katherine Keefer appeared for City of Cleveland, Plaintiff. Assistant Public Defender David King appeared for Michael Buford, Defendant.
Case Date:September 28, 2016
Court:Municipal Court of Ohio
 
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Page 335

65 N.E.3d 335 (Ohio Mun. 2016)

CITY OF CLEVELAND, Plaintiff

v.

MICHAEL BUFORD, Defendant

2016 TRC 09893

Cleveland Municipal Court, Ohio

September 28, 2016

Assistant City Prosecutor Katherine Keefer appeared for City of Cleveland, Plaintiff.

Assistant Public Defender David King appeared for Michael Buford, Defendant.

JUDGMENT ENTRY

Emanuella Groves, Judge.

COURT'S FINDING AND OPINION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

On March 16, 2016, defendant Michael Buford was stopped by Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Patrick Reagan. As a result of the stop, the defendant was charged with violations of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs; R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(d), Driving While Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs with Concentration of eight-hundreds of one per cent or more but less than seventeen-hundreds of one percent, and R.C. 4513.263(B)(I), Seat Belt Requirements. The remarks section of the citation stated, " unsafe speed warning." The defendant filed a motion to suppress challenging the basis for the stop and the execution of the field sobriety tests.

At the suppression hearing, Trooper Reagan testified that he observed the defendant for approximately five to eight seconds operating his vehicle at a high rate speed in a 25mph zone. When asked where his laser speed-measurement device was, the trooper responded that it was in the trunk of his cruiser. The trooper determined the defendant was driving 35mph from his unaided visual estimation. He testified that he had been trained in visual estimation of speed. After observing the defendant, the trooper pulled behind him and followed him briefly. The trooper's report stated that the defendant committed two lane violations by driving over the marked lane. Upon review of the police dash video of the defendant, the trooper conceded that there had been no lane violations; the defendant was not charged with a lane violation. When asked on cross examination why the defendant was stopped, Trooper Reagan replied he was stopped for speeding. In essence, the defendant was stopped for an unaided visual estimation of speed violation. Given the elimination of the marked lane violations, the court directed the parties to focus on the basis of the stop. If the stop was not valid, then there was no need to examine any subsequent actions because they should not be considered.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.1 A traffic stop is valid if an officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a motorist has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.2 Considering all the circumstances, an officer's decision to stop a motorist for a traffic violation must be prompted by a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a traffic violation has been committed.3 The Supreme Court of Ohio has emphasized that probable cause is not required to make a traffic stop.4 In 2010, the Court held that a speed determination made by an officer trained in visual estimation of speed was sufficient evidence to support a speeding conviction.5

In 2011, the General Assembly reacted to the court's reliance of unaided visual estimation of speed and enacted R.C. 4511.091(C). This legislation prohibits the use of unaided visual estimation of speed in most cases. R.C. 4511.091(C) states in pertinent part: No person shall be arrested, charged, or convicted...

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