State v. Baker, No. 20080351.

CourtUtah Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPARRISH, Justice
Citation229 P.3d 650,2010 UT 18
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Petitioner, v. Luke Zachary BAKER, Defendant and Respondent.
Decision Date12 March 2010
Docket NumberNo. 20080351.

229 P.3d 650
2010 UT 18

STATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Petitioner,
v.
Luke Zachary BAKER, Defendant and Respondent.

No. 20080351.

Supreme Court of Utah.

March 12, 2010.


229 P.3d 651

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229 P.3d 652

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229 P.3d 653

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229 P.3d 655

Mark Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Marian Decker, Asst. Att'y Gen., Salt Lake City, for plaintiff.

Aaron P. Dodd, Provo, for defendant.

On Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals

PARRISH, Justice:

INTRODUCTION

¶ 1 Defendant Luke Zachary Baker entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in a drug free zone in violation of Utah Code section 58-37-8. Mr. Baker was the passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a broken taillight. He claims that the police exceeded the permissible length and scope of the stop when they conducted a dog sniff on the car and then ordered him out of the car and searched him. He moved to suppress the drugs and drug paraphernalia obtained during the search of his person. The district court denied his motion to suppress, but the court of appeals reversed.

¶ 2 We granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision on two issues: first, whether the court of appeals erred in its construction or application of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as to the permissible length and scope of detention of the passengers in a vehicle that police have stopped; and second, whether the court of appeals erred in its construction or application of the Fourth Amendment relating to the circumstances under which searches for weapons may be conducted. Although we conclude that the officers improperly extended the duration of the stop by having a drug dog sniff the perimeter of the vehicle, we hold that the evidence should not be excluded on this basis because the officers relied in good-faith on settled judicial precedent when they conducted the dog sniff. However, we also conclude that the officers did not have an objectively reasonable belief that Mr. Baker was armed and dangerous at the time they frisked him and discovered the drugs and drug paraphernalia that were the subject of the motion to suppress. We therefore affirm the court of appeals.

BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Sometime after midnight on January 30, 2005, Officer Raymond Robertson of the Pleasant Grove Police Department stopped the car in which Mr. Baker was a backseat passenger because it had no light illuminating the back license plate. Upon a records search of the driver's identification, Officer Robertson discovered that her driver license had been suspended for a drug violation. He then called for a K-9 unit and arrested the driver for driving on a suspended license.

¶ 4 While Officer Robertson was placing the driver under arrest, two other officers, Officer Mike Bartell and Officer Chris Rockwood, arrived as backup. Officer Bartell made contact with the passengers in the vehicle. The middle backseat passenger, not Mr. Baker, immediately advised the officer that he had a knife and handed it over to

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Officer Bartell for the duration of the stop. Officer Bartell asked if there were any other knives or weapons in the vehicle. The four passengers proceeded to give him twelve other knives, including pocket knives and small throwing knives. Officer Bartell confiscated the knives, left the passengers in the car, and waited for the K-9 unit to arrive. Officer Bartell considered the passengers to be nonthreatening and cooperative

¶ 5 Officer Robertson estimates that twelve minutes elapsed between the time when he initially placed the driver under arrest and the arrival of the K-9 unit. He estimates that he had finished searching the driver incident to arrest and had placed her in the back of the patrol car about a minute before the K-9 unit arrived. When Officer Lopez, the K-9 officer, arrived and walked his dog around the car, the dog indicated the presence of drugs on the rear driver's side door handle and on the trunk. Officer Robertson and the two assisting officers then ordered the passengers out of the car and frisked them. When Officer Rockwood frisked Mr. Baker, he discovered a marijuana pipe. During booking, officers also discovered a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession. At the preliminary hearing, Officer Robertson testified that he did not fear for his safety at the time he authorized Officer Rockwood to frisk the passengers.

¶ 6 As part of his defense, Mr. Baker moved to suppress the marijuana pipe and the bag of methamphetamine that the officers found in his possession. Officers Bartell, Rockwood, and Robertson all testified at the motion hearing. Officer Bartell testified that the passengers cooperated with him when they offered him their knives and that they did nothing to make him fear for his safety. Although he testified that all the passengers gave him knives, and that some were pocket knives, while others were larger, he did not identify what type of knife or knives Mr. Baker gave him. Officer Rockwood testified that he frisked Mr. Baker because the K-9 unit indicated on the vehicle and "because on any traffic stop a police officer is always aware of officer safety." But Officer Robertson agreed that "in this particular case the reason that he decided to search Mr. Baker was not because he was afraid for his safety." After the district court denied his motion to suppress the evidence, Mr. Baker entered a conditional guilty plea. The court of appeals reversed the district court, and we granted certiorari. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Utah Code section 78A-3-102(3)(a).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 7 On certiorari, this court reviews the decision of the court of appeals for correctness, giving no deference to its conclusions of law. Thomas v. Color Country Mgmt., 2004 UT 12, ¶ 9, 84 P.3d 1201. When reviewing a district court's denial of a motion to suppress, the appellate court disturbs the district court's findings of fact only when they are clearly erroneous. State v. Worwood, 2007 UT 47, ¶ 12, 164 P.3d 397. The appellate court reviews the district court's legal conclusions for correctness. Brake, 2004 UT 95, ¶ 15, 103 P.3d 699. "When a case involves the reasonableness of a search and seizure, we afford little discretion to the district court because there must be state-wide standards that guide law enforcement and prosecutorial officials." State v. Warren, 2003 UT 36, ¶ 12, 78 P.3d 590 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Brake, 2004 UT 95, ¶ 15, 103 P.3d 699, (noting that we afford no deference to the district court's "application of law to the underlying factual findings in search and seizure cases").

ANALYSIS

¶ 8 The State argues that the court of appeals erred in its construction of the Fourth Amendment when it reversed the district court's denial of Mr. Baker's motion to suppress. The court of appeals held that the officers impermissibly extended the duration of the stop for the twelve minutes between the arrest of the driver and the arrival of the K-9 unit. State v. Baker, 2008 UT App 115, ¶ 12, 182 P.3d 935. It further held that concern for officer safety did not provide an alternative justification for the stop because "in this particular situation, the mere presence of the knives, which had been confiscated at the time the officers decided to search the passengers," did not provide the

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officers with reasonable suspicion that the passengers were "armed and presently dangerous." Id. ¶ 17 (internal quotation marks omitted).

¶ 9 We first hold that the officers impermissibly detained Mr. Baker after concluding the purpose of the initial stop, which was to investigate and then arrest the vehicle driver. We then adopt the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule and apply it to the facts of this case, concluding that the officers reasonably relied on settled judicial precedent when they impermissibly extended Mr. Baker's detention by having the drug dog sniff the vehicle. We then consider whether the positive indication of the drug dog justified the subsequent frisk of Mr. Baker, either because it gave rise to an objectively reasonable belief on the part of law enforcement that Mr. Baker was armed and dangerous or because it gave rise to probable cause that Mr. Baker possessed illegal drugs under exigent circumstances that excused the need for a warrant. We conclude that the search of Mr. Baker's person was not justified based on grounds of officer safety because the officers lacked reasonable articulable suspicion that the passengers posed a threat to their safety at the time they conducted the pat-down search of Mr. Baker. And while the drug dog sniff may have provided the officers with justification to search Mr. Baker for drugs, either because the officers had probable cause to arrest him or because exigent circumstances justified a warrantless search, the State does not raise this argument on appeal. We therefore do not address it.

I. THE OFFICERS IMPROPERLY EXTENDED MR. BAKER'S DETENTION AFTER THEY FINISHED PROCESSING THE DRIVER'S ARREST

¶ 10 The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures" of "their persons, houses, papers, and effects" by the government. U.S. Const. amend IV. "The `touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness,'" which "is measured in objective terms by examining the totality of the circumstances." Ohio v. Robinette, 519 U.S. 33, 39, 117 S.Ct. 417, 136 L.Ed.2d 347 (1996) (quoting Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248, 250, 111 S.Ct. 1801, 114 L.Ed.2d 297 (1991)); see also Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 109, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977). Reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment "depends `on a balance between the public interest and the individual's right to personal security free from arbitrary interference by law officers.'" State v. Warren, 2003 UT 36, ¶ 31, 78...

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76 practice notes
  • McCloud v. State (State in Interest of C.Z.), No. 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • May 20, 2021
    ...this court reviews the decision of the court of appeals for correctness, giving no deference to its conclusions of law." State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 7, 229 P.3d 650. On the underlying claims, "[w]hen confronted with ineffective assistance of counsel claims, we review a lower court's purel......
  • State v. Guard, No. 20140039.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • December 31, 2015
    ...649 (1987) (making clear that the “clear break” rule no longer applies to new constitutional rules of criminal procedure); State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 24, 229 P.3d 650 (applying a new constitutional rule retroactively to a case on direct review because “Griffith v. Kentucky eliminated the......
  • State v. Rasabout, No. 20130430
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 14, 2015
    ...(a ship, for example) of a burden or of contents; unload"). 70. See infra ¶ 47 (internal quotation marks omitted). 71. Cf. State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 57, 229 P.3d 650 (declining to address an issue in an "unsettled" area of the law because the court was "without the benefit of adversaria......
  • State v. Houston, No. 20080625
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 13, 2015
    ...that it would be "imprudent to now resolve [an] extremely important issue without the benefit of adversarial briefing"); State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 57, 229 P.3d 650 ("[W]here the law . . . is unsettled and we are without the benefit of adversarial briefing on the subject, we would be ill......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • McCloud v. State (State in Interest of C.Z.), No. 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • May 20, 2021
    ...this court reviews the decision of the court of appeals for correctness, giving no deference to its conclusions of law." State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 7, 229 P.3d 650. On the underlying claims, "[w]hen confronted with ineffective assistance of counsel claims, we review a lower court's purel......
  • State v. Guard, No. 20140039.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • December 31, 2015
    ...649 (1987) (making clear that the “clear break” rule no longer applies to new constitutional rules of criminal procedure); State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 24, 229 P.3d 650 (applying a new constitutional rule retroactively to a case on direct review because “Griffith v. Kentucky eliminated the......
  • State v. Rasabout, No. 20130430
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 14, 2015
    ...(a ship, for example) of a burden or of contents; unload"). 70. See infra ¶ 47 (internal quotation marks omitted). 71. Cf. State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 57, 229 P.3d 650 (declining to address an issue in an "unsettled" area of the law because the court was "without the benefit of adversaria......
  • State v. Houston, No. 20080625
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 13, 2015
    ...that it would be "imprudent to now resolve [an] extremely important issue without the benefit of adversarial briefing"); State v. Baker, 2010 UT 18, ¶ 57, 229 P.3d 650 ("[W]here the law . . . is unsettled and we are without the benefit of adversarial briefing on the subject, we would be ill......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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