State v. Bradberry

Decision Date31 December 1986
Docket NumberNo. 85-526,85-526
Citation129 N.H. 68,522 A.2d 1380
PartiesThe STATE of New Hampshire v. Joan BRADBERRY.
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Stephen E. Merrill, Atty. Gen. (Robert B. Muh, Asst. Atty. Gen., on the brief and orally), for the State.

McNamara, Larsen & Schuster P.A., Lebanon (Mark A. Larsen on the brief and orally), for defendant.

BROCK, Chief Justice.

The defendant, Joan Bradberry, was found guilty by the Superior Court (Johnson, J.) of possession of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), RSA 318-B:26, I(b)(1), possession of Valium, RSA 318-B:26, I(b)(2), and transportation of marijuana, RSA 265:80. She appeals from the trial court's order denying her motion to suppress evidence seized from her vehicle in the course of a search pursuant to a warrant issued by the Lebanon District Court (Lovejoy, J.). We affirm the trial court's determination.

On October 10, 1984, the defendant was arrested after police, armed with a warrant, searched her vehicle and found cocaine, cutting material (an agent used to dilute the strength of the drug), Valium, marijuana pipes, straws, scalpels, scales, a calculator, a book listing weights and amounts, and a plastic vial containing three "hits," or dosage units, of LSD. At a jury-waived trial, the defendant moved to suppress this evidence, alleging that probable cause for issuance of the warrant did not exist. The court denied the motion, ruling that the warrant had been "properly issued."

The affidavit, which was signed by Officers Dutille and Beckett of the Lebanon Police Department, and the testimony supporting the warrant, center around two informer tips and certain police corroboration thereof. First, Sergeant Laurie, also of the Lebanon Police Department, informed Detective Beckett that he had been contacted by an anonymous informant who told him that Joan Bradberry, of Taftsville, Vermont, had a serious cocaine problem that was supposedly "ruining her life." The caller stated that Bradberry was a dealer; that she sold the drugs from her car, a three-year-old white Saab with Vermont registration VN 817; and that she carried a gun. Second, Sergeant Dutille told Detective Beckett that he was told by a confidential informant, a trustworthy businessman whom he had known for fifteen years, that the informant had seen Bradberry using cocaine within four days prior to October 10, the date the warrant was sought; that he had seen it in her car within those four days; that the informant recognized the drug because he had in the past used it himself; and that the informant had seen Bradberry in a car answering the first informant's description.

The police corroborated the part of the first tip describing the car Bradberry drove, and the license plate number. It is not clear from the record whether the police told the district court judge that the businessman-informant had said he had used cocaine with Bradberry at the time he observed her. The magistrate's handwritten notes on the affidavit, as translated by counsel, are as follows: "October 10, 1984, Sergeant Dutille offered sworn testimony relative to the reliability of the informant and the Court concludes that the informant is reliable and trustworthy of belief.... Testimony was further offered by applicant Becket[t] placing the subject at the residence of a known user." It was on this basis that the search warrant was issued.

The defendant argues on appeal that the affidavit submitted in support of the application for a warrant failed to satisfy the requirements of either State v. Mandravelis, 114 N.H. 634, 325 A.2d 794 (1974) or Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). Initially, the State argues that the defendant does not maintain that part I, article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution provides her greater protection than the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the Federal Constitution, and thus federal standards should be applied in deciding this case. I disagree with the State's claim. The fallacy of the State's argument becomes evident upon review of the defendant's brief, wherein she argues that this court's approach to search and seizure law is grounded in Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), and Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637 (1969). If this were actually the case the Aguilar-Spinelli analysis could in certain instances provide criminal defendants with greater protection than would be provided under the current Gates "totality-of-the-circumstances" test, Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at 233, 103 S.Ct. at 2329. In addition, the specific case most relied on by the defendant, State v. Mandravelis supra, and argued by her to be applicable under the State Constitution, is not necessarily consistent with current fourth amendment jurisprudence. Therefore, for the defendant's argument to make any sense, it must be premised upon a belief that the State Constitution affords her greater protection than does the federal. The defendant purports to raise only State constitutional issues, although she does refer to the federal counterpart of part I, article 19, U.S. CONST. amends. IV, XIV, from time to time. Thus, I will deal solely with the State constitutional issues in this opinion.

My brother Souter argues in his special concurrence that the State constitutional issue has not been properly preserved for appeal, and hence relies on the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution to reach the conclusion articulated in this opinion. Justice Souter cites State v. Dellorfano, 128 N.H. 628, 517 A.2d 1163 (1986) as support for his position. I believe this reliance is misplaced inasmuch as it entails an overly broad reading of that case. Dellorfano enunciated two prerequisites for preservation of a State constitutional issue: first, the defendant must raise the issue at the trial court level and second, he or she must "invoke a provision of the State Constitution," id. at ---, 517 A.2d at 1166, in his or her appellate brief. Justice Souter regards each of these conditions as unfulfilled in this case. I disagree. The defendant cited the relevant State constitutional provision in her requests for findings of fact and rulings of law. This, in my view, was sufficient to satisfy the first Dellorfano condition. The second condition was also met in that the defendant specifically stated in her appellate brief that the application of part I, article 19 of the State Constitution was the sole issue raised on appeal. This does not, contrary to my brother's position, constitute a case of mere passing reference to the State Constitution, but, rather, given the presentation and context of the argument as a whole, a case squarely based on it. Thus, I conclude that the State issue has been preserved for appeal, and it should therefore be addressed. Parenthetically, however, I commend the general thrust of my brother's position and explication of how issues should be properly raised and argued to members of the bar in order that the issue that divides the court in this case may be avoided in the future. The defendant's position may correctly be characterized as confusing, and, to that extent, I am in agreement with my brother.

The defendant argues that the affidavit failed to satisfy the four requirements set out in State v. Mandravelis supra resulting in a violation of the State Constitution, part I, article 19. She also asserts that the affidavit does not provide information concerning either the informer's credibility or the fact that evidence of a crime would be found in the Bradberry vehicle.

In State v. Mandravelis, this court stated that

"[w]hen all or part of the information [contained in an application for a search warrant] comes from an informer, the police officer should: (a) state what part comes from the informer; (b) state the facts received from the informer not merely [the informer's] conclusions; (c) state how the informer got the information; i.e., by personal observation or from another informer or otherwise; (d) state facts from which the magistrate can determine if the informer is a credible (truthful) person."

Id., 114 N.H. at 637, 325 A.2d at 796.

The defendant's argument that State v. Mandravelis applies is premised partially on a belief that it either was decided under the State Constitution or has since been adopted by this court as applicable to part I, article 19. Both formulations of the defendant's premise are incorrect. A careful reading of State v. Mandravelis indicates that its reasoning was based upon the prevailing federal constitutional analysis in effect at the time it was decided. In addition, while some of this court's recent pronouncements may be equivocal regarding the constitutional basis of State v. Mandravelis, see State v. Stiles, 128 N.H. 81, 84-5, 512 A.2d 1084, 1087 (1986) and State v. Corey, 127 N.H. 56, 59, 497 A.2d 1196, 1198-99 (1985), this court has never explicitly held that the State v. Mandravelis requirements are mandated by our State Constitution.

However, I would reject the defendant's further assertion that the rigid two-pronged approach of Aguilar-Spinelli should be followed by this court. Rather, I would choose to adopt a more sensible and flexible approach to the determination of whether probable cause exists in cases involving the issuance of search warrants based on informants' tips, namely, a totality-of-the-circumstances test akin to that set out by the United States Supreme Court in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). However, I hasten to emphasize that such a test would be our own and would not be tied to present or future federal pronouncements on the issue. In other words, recognizing the renewed vigor of State constitutional analysis, see Abrahamson, Criminal Law and State Constitutions: The Emergence of State Constitutional Law, 63 Tex.L.Rev. 1141, 1144-48 (1985), I would choose to follow our...

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 cases
  • State v. Beauchesne
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 4 mars 2005
    ...State rules a mere row of shadows; if we place too little, we will render State practice incoherent." State v. Bradberry, 129 N.H. 68, 83, 522 A.2d 1380 (1986) (Souter, J., concurring). Given the significance of State constitutional analysis, the defendant must raise the State constitutiona......
  • State v. Valenzuela
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 31 décembre 1987
    ...right of privacy in his home. State v. Chaisson, 125 N.H. 810, 816, 486 A.2d 297, 301 (1984); State v. Bradberry, 129 N.H. 68, 76, 522 A.2d 1380, 1385 (1986) (Batchelder, J., concurring specially). Further, applying Katz, article 19 would extend to protect "people, not places," 389 U.S. at ......
  • Eisenhauer v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 23 mars 1988
    ...v. Chapman, 425 Mich. 245, 387 N.W.2d 835 (1986); Mississippi: Lee v. State, 435 So.2d 674 (Miss.1983); New Hampshire: New Hampshire v. Bradberry, 129 N.H. 68, 522 A.2d 1380 (1986); North Carolina: State v. Arrington, 311 N.C. 633, 319 S.E.2d 254 (1984); Pennsylvania: Commonwealth v. Gray, ......
  • State v. Brown
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 25 mars 2004
    ...a mere row of shadows; if we place too little, we will render State practice incoherent. State v. Bradberry, 129 N.H. 68, 82-83, 522 A.2d 1380, 1389 (1986) (Souter, J., concurring specially). For a general discussion, see Robert L. Brown, Expanded Rights Through State Law: The United States......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT