71 S.W.3d 573 (Ark. 2002), CR 01-1108, Hoay v. State

Docket Nº:CR 01-1108.
Citation:71 S.W.3d 573, 348 Ark. 80
Opinion Judge:[19] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert L. Brown, Justice.
Party Name:James HOAY v. STATE of Arkansas.
Attorney:[17] Blackmon-Solis & Moak, L.L.P., by: DeeNita D. Moak, for appellant. [18] Mark Pryor, Att'y Gen., by: Lauren Elizabeth Heil, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Case Date:April 04, 2002
Court:Supreme Court of Arkansas
 
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Page 573

71 S.W.3d 573 (Ark. 2002)

348 Ark. 80

James HOAY

v.

STATE of Arkansas.

No. CR 01-1108.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

April 4, 2002.

Page 574

[348 Ark. 81] Blackmon-Solis & Moak, L.L.P., by: DeeNita D. Moak, Little Rock, for appellant.

Mark Pryor, Att'y Gen., by: Lauren Elizabeth Heil, Ass't Att'y Gen., Little Rock, for appellee.

ROBERT L. BROWN, Justice.

This is an appeal by appellant James Hoay from a conditional plea of guilty to possession of methamphetamine. He was sentenced to eighteen months to serve in prison followed by five years' suspended imposition of sentence. He appeals his conditional plea under Ark. R.Crim. [348 Ark. 82] P. 24.3(b) based on the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress the seizure of methamphetamine following an illegal traffic stop. We reverse the order denying the suppression and remand this case for determination of the question of who was responsible for not quashing an outstanding arrest warrant that led to Hoay's invalid arrest.

On July 9, 1999, during the early evening hours, Officer Jeff Midgett of the Clay County Sheriff's Department observed a truck driven by Hoay move to the right of the fog line, cross the center line twice, and drive to the right of the fog line again for approximately one-half a mile to one mile. At that point, Officer Midgett stopped the vehicle. As the truck pulled off to the side of the road, the police officer saw the driver "bending over ... toward the floorboard" of his vehicle. The driver identified himself as James Hoay, and he gave the police officer his driver's license. The police officer did not detect the smell of alcohol and requested no field sobriety tests. He ran the driver's license through the National Crime Information Center and found that there was an outstanding arrest warrant on Hoay issued from Greene County.

Officer Midgett then checked with two dispatchers in the Greene County Sheriff's Department and verified that an arrest warrant on Hoay was outstanding due to his failure to appear in court on a felony charge for possession of a controlled substance. The police officer returned to Hoay's vehicle and arrested Hoay on the outstanding warrant and handcuffed him. At that point he observed a bulge in one of Hoay's socks and pulled the sock down. He found a ziploc bag which contained crystal methamphetamine. In a bag with personal belongings located in the truck, Officer Midgett found a separate plastic bag and razor blades.

Hoay was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He moved to suppress the methamphetamine seized based on the fact that the Greene County warrant had been set aside and, thus, the arrest was invalid. In support of his motion, Hoay introduced a Greene County docket sheet showing that the arrest warrant was issued on February [348 Ark. 83] 11, 1999, and quashed on April 20, 1999. The motion was denied. The trial court specifically found that Officer Midgett was operating in good faith in making the arrest, though the court also noted that there was some breakdown in communication

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with the Greene County Sheriff's office. Hoay then entered his conditional plea to possession of methamphetamine. The drug paraphernalia charge was nolle prossed.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals suppressed the drugs seized and remanded the case. Hoay v. State, 75 Ark.App. 103, 55 S.W.3d 782 (2001). We granted the state's petition for review. When reviewing a case, we treat the matter as if the appeal were originally filed in this court. Thompson v. State, 333 Ark. 92, 966 S.W.2d 901 (1998).

Hoay contends on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. This court has said that the proper standard for reviewing a trial court's grant of a motion to suppress is to "make an independent determination based upon the totality of the circumstances, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State." Bunch v. State, 346 Ark. 33, 57 S.W.3d 124 (2001) (quoting Wright v. State, 335 Ark. 395, 983 S.W.2d 397 (1998)). The court will only reverse if the trial court's ruling is clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. Id.

Hoay urges that Officer Midgett lacked reasonable suspicion to effect the traffic stop. We disagree. Rule 3.1 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure provides in part:

A law enforcement officer lawfully present in any place may, in the performance of his duties, stop and detain any person who he reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit (1) a felony, or (2) a misdemeanor involving danger or forcible injury to persons or of appropriation of or damage to property, if such action is reasonably necessary either to obtain or verify the identification of the person or to determine the lawfulness of his conduct.

Officer Midgett observed Hoay weaving across the road lines for a...

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