State v. Dissent

Decision Date07 September 2010
Docket NumberSC18077 Dissent
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

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dissenting. Both the fourth amendment to the United States constitution and article first, § 7, of the Connecticut constitution protect individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. In this case, it is undisputed that the initial stop of the defendant, Christopher Jenkins, for improperly changing lanes was reasonable and, therefore, valid under both of these provisions. See State v. Jenkins, 104 Conn. App. 417, 427, 934 A.2d 281 (2007). The question before us is whether the subsequent consent search of the defendant's vehicle, conducted after Officer Michael Morgan, a detective with the Newington police department, had completed a check of the defendant's personal and vehicular information, asked the defendant to step out of the vehicle, frisked him and explained the ticket to him, also was reasonable. I do not contest the majority's conclusion in part II of its opinion that, under the weight of recent federal precedent, the scope of the traffic stop was not improper under the federal constitution. Such a development, however, clearly would constitute a move toward a more restrictive view of the fourth amendment than previously had been established under federal law. I disagree, however, with the majority's conclusion in part III of its opinion that the conduct in the present case did not violate the Connecticut constitution solely because Morgan's request for consent to search the defendant's vehicle did not measurably extend the duration of the traffic stop.1 In my view, under article first, § 7, of the Connecticut constitution, before a police officer can shift the purpose and scope of a roadside detention from a routine traffic stop to a consent search, the officer must have reasonable and articulable suspicion of illegal activity unrelated to the initial traffic violation.2 Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.

''It is well established that federal constitutional... law establishes a minimum national standard for the exercise of individual rights and does not inhibit state governments from affording higher levels of protection for such rights.... State v. Oquendo, 223 Conn. 635, 649, 613 A.2d 1300 (1992). Moreover, we have held that [i]n the area of fundamental civil liberties—which includes all protections of the declaration of rights contained in article first of the Connecticut constitution— we sit as a court of last resort.... In such constitutional adjudication, our first referent is Connecticut law and the full panoply of rights Connecticut citizens have come to expect as their due. Accordingly, decisions of the United States Supreme Court defining fundamental rights are persuasive authority to be afforded respectful consideration, but they are to be followed by Connecticut courts only when they provide no less individual protection than is guaranteed by Connecticut law....

State v. Marsala, 216 Conn. 150, 160, 579 A.2d 58 (1990). Recognizing that our state constitution is an instrument of progress... is intended to stand for a great length of time and should not be interpreted too narrowly or too literally... we have concluded in several cases that the state constitution provides broader protection of individual rights than does the federal constitution. See, e.g., [State v. Oquendo, supra], 652; State v. Marsala, supra, 171; State v. Dukes, 209 Conn. 98, 112, 547 A.2d 10 (1988), and cases cited therein.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. DeFusco, 224 Conn. 627, 632, 620 A.2d 746 (1993). "Specifically, we have held that article first, § 7, affords protections to the citizens of this state beyond those provided by the fourth amendment to the federal constitution, as that provision has been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. See State v. Miller, 227 Conn. 363, 379, 630 A.2d 1315 (1993); State v. Geisler, 222 Conn. 672, 690, 610 A.2d 1225 (1992); State v. Marsala, supra, [160-61]; State v. Dukes, supra, [122-23].'' State v. Wilkins, 240 Conn. 489, 504-505, 692 A.2d 1233 (1997).

''The analytical framework by which we determine whether, in any given instance, our state constitution affords broader protection to our citizens than the federal constitutional minimum is well settled. In State v. Geisler, [supra, 222 Conn. 684-86], we enumerated the following six factors to be considered in determining that issue: (1) persuasive relevant federal precedents; (2) the text of the operative constitutional provisions; (3) historical insights into the intent of our constitutional forebears; (4) related Connecticut precedents; (5) persuasive precedents of other state courts; and (6) contemporary understandings of applicable economic and sociological norms, or as otherwise described, relevant public policies.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. McKenzie-Adams, 281 Conn. 486, 509-10, 915 A.2d 822, cert. denied, 552 U.S. 888, 128 S. Ct. 248, 169 L. Ed. 2d 148 (2007).

I agree with the majority that neither the text nor the constitutional history of article first, § 7, support the defendant's claim to greater protections under the state constitution than the federal constitution. I disagree, however, with the majority's analyses of persuasive relevant federal precedents, related Connecticut precedents, the persuasive precedents of other state courts and contemporary understandings of public policy. I believe that these four factors necessitate a conclusion that article first, § 7, requires us to examine both the temporal and substantive scope of a routine traffic stop and that, more specifically, a consent search during a routine traffic stop is not valid unless there is a reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that a detained driver or passenger has engaged in, or is about to engage in, criminal activity.


As I previously have noted herein, I do not dispute the majority's conclusion that recent federal precedent suggests that the permissibility of a consent search following a routine traffic stop is dictated by the duration of the stop. For the reasons that follow, however, it is my view that such a holding constitutes a substantive departure from settled fourth amendment jurisprudence.

As both the majority and the state properly recognize, the reasonableness of traffic stops under the fourth amendment is analyzed under the framework established in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968). See Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S., 129 S. Ct. 781, 786, 172 L. Ed. 2d 694 (2009); State v. Wilkins, supra, 240 Conn. 508-509. Under Terry, "[cjertain seizures are reasonable under the fourth amendment even in the absence of probable cause if there is a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 498, 103 S. Ct. 1319, 75 L. Ed. 2d 229 (1983); Terry v. Ohio, [supra, 24].... When a reasonable and articulable suspicion exists, the detaining officer may conduct an investigative stop of the suspect in order to confirm or dispel his suspicions.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Brown, 279 Conn. 493, 517, 903 A.2d 169 (2006).

The United States Supreme Court had been careful, however, to limit the boundaries of such warrantless stops. The court acknowledged that it had ''held in the past that a search which is reasonable at its inception may violate the [f]ourth [a]mendment by virtue of its intolerable intensity and scope.... The scope of the search must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances which rendered its initiation permissible.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Terry v. Ohio, supra, 392 U.S. 17-19. Although the court declined to set out bright-line limitations on the scope of the search, it warned that ''[t]he manner in which the seizure and search were conducted is, of course, as vital a part of the inquiry as whether they were warranted at all. The [f]ourth [a]mendment proceeds as much by limitations upon the scope of governmental action as by imposing preconditions upon its initiation.... The entire deterrent purpose of the rule excluding evidence seized in violation of the [f]ourth [a]mendment rests on the assumption that limitations upon the fruit to be gathered tend to limit the quest itself.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 28-29. Subsequently, in Florida v. Royer, supra, 460 U.S. 500, the court clarified that ''[t]he scope of [an investigative] detention must be carefully tailored to its...

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