State v. Lester, No. A14–0431.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtWRIGHT, Justice.
Citation874 N.W.2d 768
Parties STATE of Minnesota, Appellant, v. Jimmy Dawayne LESTER, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. A14–0431.
Decision Date10 February 2016

874 N.W.2d 768

STATE of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Jimmy Dawayne LESTER, Respondent.

No. A14–0431.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

Feb. 10, 2016.


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, MN; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Kelly O'Neill Moller, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, for appellant.

Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Bridget Kearns Sabo, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul, MN; and Jonathan P. Schmidt, Kathryn M. Short, Special Assistant State Public Defenders, Briggs and Morgan, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, for respondent.

OPINION

WRIGHT, Justice.

In this appeal from a judgment of conviction of third-degree possession of a controlled substance, respondent Jimmy Dawayne Lester argues that the heroin seized from the car he was driving must be suppressed because the police unlawfully searched the car. Although the district court denied Lester's motion to suppress the heroin, the court of appeals reversed after concluding that the police did not have probable cause to arrest Lester or to search the car he was driving. State v. Lester, No. A14–0431, 2015 WL 1608701 (Minn.App. Apr. 13, 2015). We hold that the warrantless search of Lester's car was lawful under the automobile exception because there was probable cause to believe that contraband would be found in the car. Therefore, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand to that court to address any remaining issues on appeal.

I.

Appellant State of Minnesota charged Lester with second-degree sale of a controlled substance, Minn.Stat. § 152.022, subd. 1(1) (2014), and third-degree possession of a controlled substance, Minn.Stat. § 152.023, subd. 2(a)(1) (2014), after police found heroin in a rental car that Lester was driving. Prior to trial, Lester moved to suppress the heroin on the ground that the police unlawfully searched the car without a warrant.

Testimony at the pretrial omnibus hearing established the following. On October 26, 2011, Officer Kyle Ruud, who has served with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 18 years, received a tip from a confidential reliable informant (CRI). Officer Ruud had worked with this particular CRI for two months. In prior investigations, Officer Ruud had corroborated the CRI's information, had determined it to be truthful, and had used it to recover contraband. Charges were filed as a result of these prior tips. In this case, the CRI told Officer Ruud that a

874 N.W.2d 770

man, nicknamed J., "was going to be delivering a quantity of heroin to the area of Broadway Avenue North and Washington Avenue North" in Minneapolis within "approximately ten minutes" of the CRI's tip. The CRI described J. as "a black male, 28 to 30 years old, approximately five nine, five ten in height, medium build and medium light complexion." The CRI stated that he had personally observed J. "in possession of heroin on several occasions within the past month and also selling heroin to customers within the past month."

Within three minutes of the tip, Officer Ruud set up surveillance at the corner of Broadway and Washington and observed a Dodge Charger parked on Washington. A male in the front passenger seat matched J.'s description. Police officers brought the CRI to this intersection, and the CRI positively identified the passenger in the Charger as J. The driver of the Charger was later identified as Lester. The CRI did not say anything about Lester, the Charger, or where J. stored drugs. Officer Ruud confirmed that all he knew was that "J was going to be delivering a quantity of heroin to Broadway and Washington Avenue North within about ten minutes." A few minutes later, Lester and J. drove to a nearby SuperAmerica gas station and parked near the gas pumps. Lester and J. went inside the gas station and returned to the Charger a few minutes later. Lester got inside the Charger, but J. walked toward a sidewalk on Broadway, north of the gas station. Meanwhile, Lester pulled away from the gas pumps and parked the Charger on the north side of the gas station parking lot.

While on the sidewalk, J. "was talking on the phone, looking back and forth." Officer Ruud believed, based on his experience and training, that J.'s behavior indicated that J. "was waiting for a potential [narcotics] customer to come in the area." J. walked across Broadway into a McDonald's parking lot and "met up with a white male who was in a silver Pontiac Grand Am." Based on what Officer Ruud witnessed, he inferred that "the potential customer that J[.] had been waiting for had arrived in that vehicle and now [J.] got into that vehicle and they met up." Officer Ruud also inferred that Lester, who remained parked at the gas station, appeared to be "waiting for J[.] to return" to the Charger. Officer Ruud explained that, in his experience, it is "typical" for two people to work together with a vehicle to deal narcotics. Often one person "stay[s] with the vehicle" to "keep[ ] watch on the narcotics" hidden in the vehicle, Officer Ruud testified, while "the other person makes the transactions." Based on the CRI's tip and Officer Ruud's observations and experience, Officer Ruud believed that Lester was using the Charger to facilitate narcotics dealing with J. and that police "would find heroin" in the Charger.

After J. got into the Grand Am and it headed east on Broadway, Officer Ruud ordered other police officers to stop the Grand Am and to arrest all occupants of both the Grand Am and the Charger. The police...

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36 practice notes
  • State v. Storm, No. 16-0362
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...v. Dame, 473 Mass. 524, 45 N.E.3d 69, 81 (2016) ; People v. Kazmierczak, 461 Mich. 411, 605 N.W.2d 667, 674 (2000) ; State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) ; Moore v. State, 787 So.2d 1282, 1288 (Miss. 2001) ; State v. Rocha, 295 Neb. 716, 890 N.W.2d 178, 202 (2017) ; St a te v. ......
  • State v. Taylor, A20-0425
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • October 13, 2021
    ...inferences which [the officer] is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his experience" (emphasis added)); State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) (stating that training and experience are relevant because "police officers may interpret circumstances differently th......
  • Blawat v. Huener, A19-0605
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • January 13, 2020
    ...circumstances sufficient to warrant a reasonably prudent person to believe that the vehicle contains contraband." State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) (quotation omitted). As stated above, Officer Huener stopped appellants to investigate unlawful hunting activity. During t......
  • State v. Jung, A20-0105
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • August 10, 2020
    ...training and experience, because police officers may interpret circumstances differently than untrained persons." State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016). The district court determined that the initial traffic stop was lawful based on Jung's driving conduct, but also determin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • State v. Storm, No. 16-0362
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...v. Dame, 473 Mass. 524, 45 N.E.3d 69, 81 (2016) ; People v. Kazmierczak, 461 Mich. 411, 605 N.W.2d 667, 674 (2000) ; State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) ; Moore v. State, 787 So.2d 1282, 1288 (Miss. 2001) ; State v. Rocha, 295 Neb. 716, 890 N.W.2d 178, 202 (2017) ; St a te v. ......
  • State v. Taylor, A20-0425
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • October 13, 2021
    ...inferences which [the officer] is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his experience" (emphasis added)); State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) (stating that training and experience are relevant because "police officers may interpret circumstances differently th......
  • Blawat v. Huener, A19-0605
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • January 13, 2020
    ...circumstances sufficient to warrant a reasonably prudent person to believe that the vehicle contains contraband." State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016) (quotation omitted). As stated above, Officer Huener stopped appellants to investigate unlawful hunting activity. During t......
  • State v. Jung, A20-0105
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • August 10, 2020
    ...training and experience, because police officers may interpret circumstances differently than untrained persons." State v. Lester, 874 N.W.2d 768, 771 (Minn. 2016). The district court determined that the initial traffic stop was lawful based on Jung's driving conduct, but also determin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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