State v. Glover, 116,446

Decision Date27 July 2018
Docket NumberNo. 116,446,116,446
Citation422 P.3d 64
Parties STATE of Kansas, Appellant, v. Charles GLOVER, Appellee.
CourtKansas Supreme Court

Andrew Bauch, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and John Grobmyer, legal intern, Charles E. Branson, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellant.

Elbridge Griffy IV, of Lawrence, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellee.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Luckert, J.:

The United States Supreme Court has determined that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows a law enforcement officer to initiate a traffic stop only when the officer has an articulable and reasonable suspicion, based on fact, that the person stopped has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Here, the officer stopped a vehicle simply because he assumed the driver was the registered owner, whose driver's license had been revoked. The officer had no information to support the assumption that the owner was the driver.

The driver moved to suppress evidence obtained during the stop, arguing the officer did not have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity when he stopped the car. The district court agreed, finding unreasonable the officer's assumption that the car's driver was the registered owner. The State appealed that ruling, and the Court of Appeals reversed. State v. Glover , 54 Kan. App. 2d 377, 400 P.3d 182 (2017). On review of that decision, we reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the district court. We hold the officer lacked an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the unidentified driver did not have a valid driver's license; the officer's assumption was only a hunch and was unsupported by a particularized and objective belief.


While on routine patrol, Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Mehrer observed a 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck and ran the truck's license plate number through the Kansas Department of Revenue's database. Deputy Mehrer learned Charles Glover, Jr., had registered the vehicle and Glover's Kansas driver's license had been revoked. Deputy Mehrer did not observe any traffic violations but initiated a traffic stop based on his assumption that Glover was driving the vehicle. He did not try to confirm the identity of the driver before initiating the traffic stop.

The State charged Glover with driving as a habitual violator. He filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The parties entered into the following stipulation of facts on which the district court decided the motion:

"1. Deputy Mark Mehrer is a certified law enforcement officer employed by the Douglas County[,] Kansas Sheriff's Office.
"2. On April 28, 2016, Deputy Mehrer was on routine patrol in Douglas County when he observed a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck with Kansas plate 295ATJ.
"3. Deputy Mehrer ran Kansas plate 295ATJ through the Kansas Department of Revenue's file service. The registration came back to a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck.
"4. Kansas Department of Revenue files indicated the truck was registered to Charles Glover Jr. The files also indicated that Mr. Glover had a revoked driver's license in the State of Kansas.
"5. Deputy Mehrer assumed the registered owner of the truck was also the driver, Charles Glover Jr.
"6. Deputy Mehrer did not observe any traffic violations, and did not attempt to identify the driver [of] the truck. Based solely on the information that the registered owner of the truck was revoked, Deputy Mehrer initiated a traffic stop.
"7. The driver of the truck was identified as the defendant, Charles Glover Jr."

The district court granted Glover's suppression motion, finding it was not "reasonable for an officer to infer that the registered owner of a vehicle is also the driver of the vehicle absent any information to the contrary." The district court judge relied on personal experience, stating she has "three cars registered in [her] name. [Her] husband drives one every day; [her] daughter [is] in [Washington D.C.] with one every day, and [she] drive[s] the other." The judge believed her situation was much like many other families.

The State filed an interlocutory appeal. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

"a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop of a vehicle to investigate whether the driver has a valid driver's license if, when viewed in conjunction with all of the other information available to the officer at the time of the stop, the officer knows the registered owner of the vehicle has a suspended license and the officer is unaware of any other evidence or circumstances from which an inference could be drawn that the registered owner is not the driver of the vehicle." Glover , 54 Kan. App. 2d at 385, 400 P.3d 182.

We granted Glover's petition for review. Our jurisdiction arises under K.S.A. 20-3018(b) (petition for review of Court of Appeals decision).


Glover correctly notes the State bears the burden of proving the lawfulness of a warrantless seizure. See State v. Morlock , 289 Kan. 980, 985, 218 P.3d 801 (2009). And he argues the Court of Appeals' owner-is-the-driver presumption impermissibly relieves the State of its burden of proof and shifts the burden to the driver. He argues that without the presumption the State did not sustain its burden to justify the traffic stop—a warrantless seizure—because the stipulation of facts showed no attempt by the officer to identify the driver or otherwise obtain corroborating information to show he was driving. We essentially agree with Glover's arguments. To explain that conclusion, we begin with some general principles about reasonable searches and seizures.

The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officers who seize an individual or who conduct a search to have either a warrant or a basis for relying on one of the specific and well-recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement. Riley v. California , 573 U.S. ––––, ––––, 134 S.Ct. 2473, 2482, 189 L.Ed. 2d 430 (2014) ; State v. Neighbors , 299 Kan. 234, 239, 328 P.3d 1081 (2014). One exception allows an officer to stop and briefly detain an individual without a warrant when the officer has an articulable and reasonable suspicion, based in fact, that the detained person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime. Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed. 2d 889 (1968) ; State v. Epperson , 237 Kan. 707, 712, 703 P.2d 761 (1985). A warrantless traffic stop can fall within this exception if the officer has reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or other criminal activity. See State v. Smith , 286 Kan. 402, 406, 184 P.3d 890 (2008).

To have reasonable suspicion to detain an individual, "[a] police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion." Terry , 392 U.S. at 21, 88 S.Ct. 1868. The suspicion must have " ‘a particularized and objective basis’ " and be something more than "an unparticularized suspicion or hunch." State v. DeMarco , 263 Kan. 727, 735, 952 P.2d 1276 (1998) (quoting Ornelas v. United States , 517 U.S. 690, 696, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 134 L.Ed. 2d 911 [1996], and citing United States v. Sokolow , 490 U.S. 1, 7, 109 S.Ct. 1581, 104 L.Ed. 2d 1 [1989] ). Although the United States Supreme Court has recognized that "the concept of reasonable suspicion is somewhat abstract," it has "deliberately avoided reducing it to "a neat set of legal rules." " United States v. Arvizu , 534 U.S. 266, 274, 122 S.Ct. 744, 151 L.Ed. 2d 740 (2002).

The United States Supreme Court applied these principles in the context of a case in which a law enforcement officer initiated a traffic stop to check the driver's license and registration. The officer did not know who was driving and had not observed any traffic violations before the stop. The Court held: "[E]xcept in those situations in which there is at least articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed[,] ... stopping an automobile and detaining the driver in order to check his driver's license ... [is] unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment." Delaware v. Prouse , 440 U.S. 648, 663, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed. 2d 660 (1979).

In essence, according to the district court, that is what Deputy Mehrer did. Thus, the district court granted Glover's motion to suppress. Generally, to review such a conclusion, an appellate court would review the district court's ruling on a suppression motion to determine whether the district court's factual findings are supported by substantial competent evidence and would review the ultimate legal conclusion drawn from those factual findings de novo. State v. Cleverly , 305 Kan. 598, 604, 385 P.3d 512 (2016). But when, as here, the parties submit the case to the district court on stipulated facts, appellate courts need determine only the question of law of whether the district court should have suppressed the evidence. This presents an issue subject to unlimited review. State v. Porting , 281 Kan. 320, 324, 130 P.3d 1173 (2006).

Here, the stipulated facts are somewhat distinguishable from Prouse . Deputy Mehrer knew the vehicle was properly registered in Glover's name but was also aware Glover did not possess a valid license. Deputy Mehrer did not know whether Glover was driving but "assumed the registered owner of the truck was also the driver, Charles Glover Jr." In other words, Deputy Mehrer had some suspicion of a specific crime—driving while revoked. But Deputy Mehrer, who had not observed a traffic violation, needed reasonable suspicion Glover was driving, not just some suspicion. See Prouse , 440 U.S. at 663, 99 S.Ct. 1391 ; Smith , 286 Kan. at 407, 184 P.3d 890.

Deputy Mehrer did not seek to confirm the identity of the driver, and the stipulation provides no additional facts supporting an inference...

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  • State v. Arrizabalaga
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2019
    ...cases in determining Fourth Amendment law. See, e.g., State v. Schooler , 308 Kan. 333, 351, 419 P.3d 1164 (2018) ; State v. Glover , 308 Kan. 590, 422 P.3d 64 (2018), cert. granted ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 1445, 203 L.Ed.2d 680 (2019) ; State v. Bannon , 306 Kan. 886, 893, 398 P.3d 846 (2......
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    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • April 6, 2020
    ...his inference that Glover was behind the wheel amounted to "only a hunch" that Glover was engaging in criminal activity. 308 Kan. 590, 591, 422 P.3d 64, 66 (2018). The court further explained that Deputy Mehrer's "hunch" involved "applying and stacking unstated assumptions that are unreason......
  • Strickert v. Kan. Dep't of Revenue
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    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • March 13, 2020
    ...and articulable suspicion that the driver has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. K.S.A. 22-2402(1) ; see State v. Glover , 308 Kan. 590, Syl. ¶ 1, 422 P.3d 64 (2018), cert. granted ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 1445, 203 L.Ed.2d 680 (2019). "Courts evaluate the existence o......
  • Commonwealth v. Jefferson
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    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • June 7, 2021
    ...license; the officer's assumption was only a hunch and was unsupported by a particularized and objective belief." State v. Glover , 308 Kan. 590, 422 P.3d 64, 66 (2018), cert. granted , ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S.Ct. 1445, 203 L.Ed.2d 680 (2019), and rev'd and remanded , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S.Ct. ......
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1 books & journal articles
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    • United States
    • Vermont Bar Association Vermont Bar Journal No. 45-2, June 2019
    • Invalid date
    ...Nieves v. Bartlett, 139 S.Ct. 1715 (2019). [5] United States v. Stitt, 139 S.Ct. 399 (2018). [6] Garza v. Idaho, 139 S.Ct. 738 (2019). [7] 422 P.3d 64 (Kan. 2018), cert granted, 139 S.Ct. 1445 (2019) (mem.). [8] 2012 VT 81, 192 Vt. 400, 58 A.3d 961. [9] Glover, 422 P.3d at 66. [10] Id. at 6......

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