State v. Keefe, Case Number: S–2015–961

CourtCourt of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtHUDSON, JUDGE
Citation394 P.3d 1272
Docket NumberCase Number: S–2015–961
Decision Date31 January 2017
Parties The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellant, v. Ginna Lee KEEFE, Appellee.

394 P.3d 1272

The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellant,
v.
Ginna Lee KEEFE, Appellee.

Case Number: S–2015–961

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma.

Decided: January 31, 2017


APPEARANCES AT HEARING, KEVIN KELLER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 500 S. DENVER AVE., STE. 900, TULSA, OK 74103, ATTORNEY FOR STATE

ROB V. HENSON, HENSON LAW FIRM, PLLC, 406 S. BOULDER, TULSA, OK 74103, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT

APPEARANCES ON APPEAL, KEVIN KELLER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 500 S. DENVER AVE., STE. 900, TULSA, OK 74103, ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT

ROB V. HENSON, HENSON LAW FIRM, PLLC, 406 S. BOULDER, TULSA, OK 74103, ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE

OPINION

HUDSON, JUDGE:

¶ 1 Appellant, the State of Oklahoma, charged Appellee Ginna Lee Keefe in Tulsa County District Court, Case No. CM–2015–1332, with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (Count 1), in violation of

394 P.3d 1274

47 O.S.Supp.2013, 11–902(A)(3) ; and Unsafe Lane Use (Count 2) in violation of 47 O.S.2011, 11–309. On September 22, 2015, Appellee filed a Motion to Suppress and Dismiss challenging the legality of the initial traffic stop and detention. A hearing on Appellee's motion was held on October 21 and 22, 2015. The Honorable Bill Hiddle, Special Judge, sustained Appellee's motion and suppressed all evidence resulting from the traffic stop. Appellant, the State of Oklahoma, now appeals, raising the following issues:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THE OFFICER DID NOT ACT AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN AND ACTED UNDER THE COLOR OF LAW OUTSIDE HIS JURISDICTION; and

II. IF THE OFFICER WAS NOT ACTING AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN, HE WAS ACTING UNDER THE COMMUNITY CARETAKER EXCEPTION.

¶ 2 We exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 22 O.S.2011, § 1053(5). After thorough consideration of the entire record before us on appeal, including the original record, transcripts, and briefs of the parties, we REVERSE the district court's order for reasons discussed below.

BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The State presented one witness, Officer Ryan Rogers of the Tulsa Police Department, at the hearing on Appellee's motion to suppress. Officer Rogers testified he was driving home at approximately 10:25 p.m. on February 22, 2015, having just completed his shift when he encountered Appellee. He was traveling east in his patrol car on Highway 51, also known as the Broken Arrow Expressway. While near 12900 East Highway 51, Officer Rogers observed a white truck driven by Appellee speed past him weaving in and out of the lanes. Although Appellee committed two traffic violations as she sped by—speeding and failure to maintain lane—Officer Rogers did not initiate a stop at this time as he was off duty and Appellee had not exhibited "patterns of driving that would be dangerous to anybody else besides the speeding." However, as Officer Rogers and Appellee sped towards the boundary between Tulsa and Broken Arrow,1 Officer Rogers—concerned for the safety of the driver and other drivers on the road—decided to radio and alert the Broken Arrow Police Department (BAPD) regarding the situation so they could "conduct an investigation." Officer Rogers explained, "I was just going to follow her until BAPD got with me."

¶ 4 At one point while Officer Rogers was following Appellee, he observed Appellee veer left across several lanes and nearly strike the concrete barrier separating the east and west bound traffic lanes. It is unclear from the record, however, whether this event occurred in Tulsa or Broken Arrow. In any event, shortly after entering Broken Arrow, Appellee crossed numerous lanes, almost going off the road in order to take the 145th Street exit. At this time, Officer Rogers decided Appellee's driving behavior had become too dangerous and he activated his lights and siren to effect a stop. Officer Rogers stated, "I effected the stop when [she] became a danger to herself and the people around her." Officer Rogers further testified that due to Appellee's dangerous driving behavior, he could no longer wait for BAPD to intervene. After the stop, Officer Rogers made contact with Appellee and waited for BAPD officers to arrive. Officer Chad Burden with the BAPD arrived soon thereafter.

¶ 5 The remaining events forming the basis for Appellee's misdemeanor arrest can be gleaned from Officer Burden's probable cause and blood test affidavits. When Officer Burden arrived on the scene, Appellee was sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle with the keys in the ignition. He did not smell the odor of alcohol, but observed Appellee was lethargic, had slurred speech, red bloodshot eyes, and a sleepy appearance. Appellee was asked to step out of her vehicle and submit to standardized field sobriety tests, which she failed. Officer Burden arrested Appellee for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and transported her to the Hillcrest South hospital for a consensual blood test. According to the Blood Test Affidavit, Appellee admitted taking Xanax.

394 P.3d 1275

¶ 6 Following Officer Rogers' testimony, Judge Hiddle sought clarification of seemingly conflicting case law involving officers outside their jurisdiction acting as private citizens as well as acting under the color of law. Two of the primary cases being State v. Kieffer–Roden , 2009 OK CR 18, 208 P.3d 471, and Phipps v. State , 1992 OK CR 32, 841 P.2d 591. Given that immediate action became necessary in Judge Hiddle's view to neutralize what had escalated into an extremely dangerous situation in this case, he expressed great concern regarding the applicability of established case law prohibiting an officer that is acting as a private citizen from utilizing the "tools" he or she has available to effectuate a stop. Judge Hiddle at one point even stated, "Somebody needs to take this to the Court of Criminal Appeals." He further commented in frustration, "[W]hat is [Officer Rogers] required to do? Go on home and let a drunk driver kill innocent children, or use every means at his disposal to stop the drunk driver?" Despite this frustration, Judge Hiddle ultimately granted Appellee's motion to suppress by finding Officer Rogers (1) acted outside his jurisdiction; and (2) proceeded as a private citizen, who improperly acted under the color of law when he utilized his lights and sirens to stop Appellee.

DISCUSSION

¶ 7 This Court reviews the district court's decision granting Appellee's motion to suppress for an abuse of discretion. State v. Nelson , 2015 OK CR 10, ¶ 11, 356 P.3d 1113, 1117. An abuse of discretion is defined as "a clearly erroneous conclusion and judgment, one that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts presented." Neloms v. State , 2012 OK CR 7, ¶ 35, 274 P.3d 161, 170 (quoting Stouffer v. State , 2006 OK CR 46, ¶ 60, 147 P.3d 245, 263 ). When reviewing a trial court's ruling, we defer to the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous, and review the trial court's legal conclusions de novo. Nelson , 2015 OK CR 10, ¶ 11, 356 P.3d at 1117 ; State v. Alba, 2015 OK CR 2, ¶ 4, 341 P.3d 91, 92.

¶ 8 The State's two propositions of error are intertwined and are thus addressed concurrently. The State asserts the trial court erroneously granted Appellee's motion to suppress and argues: (1) Officer Rogers was acting as a private citizen; and (2) if not, his actions were appropriate pursuant to the Community Caretaker Exception. While we find the trial court abused its discretion when it found the stop illegal, we take a different approach than proposed by the State in reaching this determination.

¶ 9 As a general rule, a police officer's authority cannot extend beyond his or her jurisdiction. United States v. Sawyer , 2004 OK CR 22, ¶ 11, 92 P.3d 707, 709. Exceptions to this rule include: (1) hot pursuit; (2) when one municipality has requested the assistance of another municipality's officers; and (3) service of an arrest warrant. Id. ; Staller v. State , 1996 OK CR 48, ¶ 10, 932 P.2d 1136, 1139 ; Graham v. State , 1977 OK CR...

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2 practice notes
  • State v. Wallace, Case No. S-2018-229
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 23, 2019
    ...court's ruling on a motion to suppress. Bramlett v. State , 2018 OK CR 19, ¶ 10, 422 P.3d 788, 793 ; State v. Keefe , 2017 OK CR 3, ¶ 7, 394 P.3d 1272, 1275. An abuse of discretion is any unreasonable or arbitrary action taken without proper consideration of the facts and law pertaining to ......
  • State v. B.C.E.T., Case Number: JS-2017-1315
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 24, 2018
    ...conclusion and judgment, one that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts presented." State v. Keefe , 2017 OK CR 3, ¶ 7, 394 P.3d 1272, 1275 (quoting Neloms v. State , 2012 OK CR 7, ¶ 35, 274 P.3d 161, 170 ).¶6 Granting Appellee's motion for certification as a Youthful Offende......
2 cases
  • State v. Wallace, Case No. S-2018-229
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 23, 2019
    ...court's ruling on a motion to suppress. Bramlett v. State , 2018 OK CR 19, ¶ 10, 422 P.3d 788, 793 ; State v. Keefe , 2017 OK CR 3, ¶ 7, 394 P.3d 1272, 1275. An abuse of discretion is any unreasonable or arbitrary action taken without proper consideration of the facts and law pertaining to ......
  • State v. B.C.E.T., Case Number: JS-2017-1315
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 24, 2018
    ...conclusion and judgment, one that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts presented." State v. Keefe , 2017 OK CR 3, ¶ 7, 394 P.3d 1272, 1275 (quoting Neloms v. State , 2012 OK CR 7, ¶ 35, 274 P.3d 161, 170 ).¶6 Granting Appellee's motion for certification as a Youthful Offende......

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