Moody v. People, No. 05SC479.

Docket NºNo. 05SC479.
Citation159 P.3d 611
Case DateMay 29, 2007
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado
159 P.3d 611
Matthew MOODY, Petitioner
v.
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Respondent.
No. 05SC479.
Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.
May 29, 2007.
Rehearing Denied June 25, 2007.*

[159 P.3d 612]

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Elizabeth Griffin, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Petitioner.

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Elizabeth Rohrbough, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Respondent.

Chief Justice MULLARKEY delivered the opinion of the court.


I. Introduction

We granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' unpublished opinion in People v. Moody, No. 04CA0361, 2005 WL 1181054 (Colo.App. May 19, 2005). In that decision, the court of appeals undertook sua sponte review of Petitioner Matthew Moody's standing to challenge the legality of the search that yielded evidence used to secure his conviction — an issue that the prosecution had not raised before either the trial court or the appeals court. Relying on Moody's trial testimony, the appeals court determined that Moody had no privacy interest in the property searched and, in any event, he had disavowed any interest he might have had through his testimony. We now reverse the court of appeals' decision as it pertains to Moody's standing. While the appeals court was not precluded from conducting a sua sponte inquiry into Moody's standing, we conclude the panel should have limited its review to the record at the suppression hearing, which was lacking facts necessary to make a fully informed determination.

II. Facts and Procedural History

On the morning of May 13, 2003, Northglenn police were summoned to a Ramada Inn Hotel to investigate a purported bomb threat. When they arrived, the hotel manager recommended the police speak with several hotel occupants — Matthew Moody and his three companions — who had been reluctant to present identification when checking in the night prior. The officers knocked on the door of the room occupied by Moody, who answered the door. The officers asked whether they could come in to talk to Moody, and he allowed them to enter.

Once inside, the officers discovered the room was in disarray, strewn with bottles, food containers, and personal effects. Two women were sleeping, and both Moody and Michael Yamaguchi, the other two occupants, appeared to have recently awakened. The officers asked Moody whether there were any illegal items in the room, and Moody produced a marijuana pipe. Another officer noticed a zippered black attaché case on the floor, which he pushed with his foot while inquiring about its contents.1 The kick partially opened the bag, exposing what appeared to be the handle of a handgun. Removing the object, which was in actuality a pellet gun, the officer asked Moody and his companions who owned the bag. Moody stated he thought the bag belonged to his brother. The officer then thoroughly searched the attaché case and discovered a CD case, gloves, a crowbar, a can of WD-40, and two pieces of fabric fashioned to serve as masks.

Having discovered these items, the officers asked for permission to search the entire room. All the occupants, including Moody, assented to the search, which yielded a .25 caliber handgun and bullets concealed inside the CD case that had already been removed from the bag. After running the serial number of the handgun through a police database, the officers learned the gun had been reported as stolen.

Moody and his companions were arrested. During a tape-recorded interview conducted thereafter, a detective interrogated him

159 P.3d 613

about information obtained from one of the other occupants, who claimed that Moody was plotting to kill a man named Ron Reece. Moody confessed that he had agreed to help his brother harm Reece, and he admitted that his brother planned to use the handgun either to shoot or to beat Reece. He also disclosed that on several occasions he and his brother had driven past Reece's house to plan the attack. Moody was subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and crime of violence.

At trial, Moody moved to suppress evidence uncovered during the search because, he argued, the police were without a warrant, they did not obtain valid consent, and all statements and evidence obtained were fruit of the illegal search of the attaché case. Following the testimony of four officers — albeit absent Moody's testimony, as he chose not to take the stand — the trial court denied Moody's motion to suppress, concluding that the contact between the officers and the occupants of the room was a voluntary encounter, rather than a seizure, to which Moody had consented when he allowed the officers to search the room. The trial court also rejected Moody's claim that the officers were required to seek consent to search each individual item in the room. After a two-day jury trial, at which Moody testified, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit menacing by use of a deadly weapon.

On appeal, Moody challenged the trial court's order in the suppression hearing, renewing his complaint that the evidence used against him was the product of an unlawful search. In an unpublished, unanimous opinion, the court of appeals rejected Moody's reassertion of this claim. Notably, however, it did so on the grounds of standing, an issue which the prosecution had not raised before either the trial court or the court of appeals. The appellate panel relied on Moody's trial testimony as having established that Moody had no proprietary or possessory interest in the bag or its contents and, as such, it found that he did not have standing to object to the search. We now reverse the court of appeals and remand the case back to that court.

III. Court of Appeals' Reliance on Moody's Trial Testimony

As an initial matter, we address the court of appeals' reliance on Moody's trial testimony to determine that he was "without any privacy interest in the bag or its contents" and thus had "abandoned any privacy interest he might have had" when his trial testimony failed to contradict the officers' suppression hearing testimony that Moody had disavowed any interest in the bag or its contents. People v. Moody, at *1.

At the suppression hearing, Moody did not testify, but four officers did so, each giving conflicting answers as to whether Moody had claimed ownership of the attaché case and the handgun at the time of the search. At trial, Moody did take the stand; he explained that the bag and most of its contents never belonged to him, and that at one time he owned the masks and the CD case in the bag but had relinquished interest in them prior to the search.2 Relying on Moody's trial testimony, the court of appeals held that even if Moody had a privacy interest in the bag or its contents at one time, he effectively abandoned that interest with his voluntary denial of ownership. People v. Moody, slip. op. at 9, citing Bond v. United States, 77 F.3d 1009, 1013 (7th Cir.1996) (ruling a person may forfeit a privacy interest in the contents of personal luggage by abandoning the luggage).

Thus, the court of appeals held that Moody's trial testimony barred his challenge to the search on appeal, pointing to People v. Thorpe, 40 Colo.App. 159, 570 P.2d 1311 (1977). In Thorpe, the trial court grounded its denial of a motion to suppress evidence on its finding of probable cause. On appeal, the court of appeals found the defendant lacked standing based on his testimony at the suppression hearing in which he disavowed any interest in the searched premises. Id. at 164, 570 P.2d at 1316.

159 P.3d 614

We disagree with the court of appeals' reading of Thorpe, and we conclude its reliance on that case was misplaced. Here, the appellate court referenced evidence and testimony presented in Moody's trial, but Thorpe stands only for the narrower proposition that a defendant is bound by his testimony at a suppression hearing in later determinations regarding standing. Just as in Thorpe, a trial court ought to focus its inquiry only on the suppression hearing record, and not on the evidence and testimony subsequently presented at trial.

We formally adopt this rule because basic principles of fairness dictate we must. To hold, as the court of appeals did, that a defendant's trial testimony may be used by an appeals court to uphold a trial court's suppression ruling would be to sanction a chilling effect on a defendant's decision to testify at trial. The knowledge...

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66 practice notes
  • Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. Hickenlooper, No. 10CA2559.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 10 Mayo 2012
    ...court reached. ¶ 35 Therefore, the parties have waived any argument that there are disputed issues of material fact. See Moody v. People, 159 P.3d 611, 614 (Colo.2007) ("arguments not advanced on appeal are generally deemed waived"; even when such arguments may lead to a different result, "......
  • People v. Cardman, Court of Appeals No. 14CA0202
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 29 Junio 2017
    ...of time, there is no reasonable possibility that the trial court could develop a better record upon which to proceed." Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 617 (Colo. 2007). I respectfully submit that this is one of those cases.VI. The Proper Approach to the Problem: Crim. P. 35(c)¶ 61 If we wer......
  • People v. Thompson, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2784
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 4 Mayo 2017
    ...Directive violates the separation of powers doctrine. The parties did not raise it in the trial court or on appeal. See Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 614-17 (Colo. 2007).)¶ 75 Based on my preceding analysis, however, I do not think that the trial court erred by implementing Cardenas and a......
  • People v. Stock, Supreme Court Case No. 14SC870
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 3 Julio 2017
    ...historical facts de novo. Id. We may affirm a trial court's suppression ruling on any grounds supported by the record. Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 615 (Colo. 2007) ("[A]ppellate courts have the discretion to affirm decisions, particularly denial of suppression motions, on any basis for ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
66 cases
  • Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. Hickenlooper, No. 10CA2559.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 10 Mayo 2012
    ...court reached. ¶ 35 Therefore, the parties have waived any argument that there are disputed issues of material fact. See Moody v. People, 159 P.3d 611, 614 (Colo.2007) ("arguments not advanced on appeal are generally deemed waived"; even when such arguments may lead to a different result, "......
  • People v. Cardman, Court of Appeals No. 14CA0202
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 29 Junio 2017
    ...of time, there is no reasonable possibility that the trial court could develop a better record upon which to proceed." Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 617 (Colo. 2007). I respectfully submit that this is one of those cases.VI. The Proper Approach to the Problem: Crim. P. 35(c)¶ 61 If we wer......
  • People v. Thompson, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2784
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 4 Mayo 2017
    ...Directive violates the separation of powers doctrine. The parties did not raise it in the trial court or on appeal. See Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 614-17 (Colo. 2007).)¶ 75 Based on my preceding analysis, however, I do not think that the trial court erred by implementing Cardenas and a......
  • People v. Stock, Supreme Court Case No. 14SC870
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 3 Julio 2017
    ...historical facts de novo. Id. We may affirm a trial court's suppression ruling on any grounds supported by the record. Moody v. People , 159 P.3d 611, 615 (Colo. 2007) ("[A]ppellate courts have the discretion to affirm decisions, particularly denial of suppression motions, on any basis for ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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