State v. Moiduddin, NO. 14-18-15

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtPRESTON, J.
Citation142 N.E.3d 1206,2019 Ohio 3544
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Mohammed MOIDUDDIN, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date03 September 2019
Docket NumberNO. 14-18-15

142 N.E.3d 1206
2019 Ohio 3544

STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Mohammed MOIDUDDIN, Defendant-Appellee.

NO. 14-18-15

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Union County.

Date of Decision: September 3, 2019


PRESTON, J.

{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, the State of Ohio, appeals the July 18, 2018 judgment of the Union County Court of Common Pleas granting the motion to suppress evidence of defendant-appellee, Mohammed Moiduddin ("Moiduddin"), and dismissing the indictment against him. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

{¶2} This case stems from a stop of an automobile on US 33 in Union County, Ohio. (Doc. No. 36). In the early morning hours of September 3, 2017, Trooper Dorian Byers ("Trooper Byers") of the Ohio State Highway Patrol observed a vehicle traveling eastbound on US 33 at a low rate of speed. (Id. ); (Apr. 5, 2018 Tr. at 32). After pacing the vehicle at a slow speed for a period of time, Trooper Byers activated his overhead lights and effected a stop of the vehicle. (Doc. No. 36). On approaching the passenger side of the vehicle, Trooper Byers noticed that the driver, Moiduddin, displayed indicators of intoxication. (Apr. 5, 2018 Tr. at 30-31). Trooper

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Byers then asked Moiduddin to exit the vehicle and proceeded to subject him to field sobriety testing. (Id. at 31-33). Although a portable breath test failed to detect the presence of alcohol in Moiduddin's system, Moiduddin's performance on a number of the field sobriety tests administered by Trooper Byers was unsatisfactory, which prompted Trooper Byers to arrest him on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. (Id. at 36-37); (Defendant's Ex. B). Thereafter, while inventorying the contents of Moiduddin's vehicle, Trooper Byers discovered a small plastic bag filled with a white, powdery substance and a separate black bag with a label that read "Analytical Sample." (Apr. 5, 2018 Tr. at 39-40); (Defendant's Ex. B). Chemical analyses later revealed that the bags contained substances that are substantially structurally similar to 4-methoxymethamphetamine and phencyclidine. (State's Ex. 1).

{¶3} On October 30, 2017, the Union County Grand Jury indicted Moiduddin on three counts: Count One of operating a vehicle under the influence of a drug of abuse in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), (G)(1)(a), a first-degree misdemeanor, and Counts Two and Three of aggravated possession of drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A), (C)(1)(a), fifth-degree felonies. (Doc. No. 1). On November 29, 2017, Moiduddin appeared for arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the counts of the indictment. (Doc. No. 7).

{¶4} On January 31, 2018, Moiduddin filed a motion to suppress evidence. (Doc. No. 18). In support of his motion, Moiduddin argued that his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution were violated when Trooper Byers stopped his vehicle. (Id. ). In particular, Moiduddin contended that Trooper Byers did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle for a violation of R.C. 4511.22, Ohio's slow-speed statute. (Id. ).

{¶5} A hearing on Moiduddin's motion to suppress was held on April 5, 2018. (See Apr. 5, 2018 Tr. at 1). On April 12, 2018, Moiduddin filed his post-suppression-hearing brief. (Doc. No. 31). On April 20, 2018, the State filed its response to Moiduddin's post-suppression-hearing brief. (Doc. No. 34). That same day, the State filed an amended response to Moiduddin's post-suppression-hearing brief. (Doc. No. 35).

{¶6} On July 18, 2018, the trial court granted Moiduddin's motion to suppress evidence. (Doc. No. 36). Specifically, the trial court concluded that Trooper Byers did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop Moiduddin for a violation of R.C. 4511.22. (Id. ). The trial court also concluded that the stop of Moiduddin's vehicle was not permissible under the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement. (Id. ). Finally, after granting Moiduddin's suppression motion, the trial court also dismissed the indictment. (Id. ).

{¶7} On August 17, 2018, the State filed a notice of appeal. (Doc. No. 37). It raises one assignment of error for our review.

Assignment of Error

The trial court failed to apply the law of community-caretaking/emergency-aid function to the facts that exist in the hearing on the motion to suppress evidence and then based on the suppression of the evidence the trial court sua sponte dismissed the case in its entirety.

{¶8} In its assignment of error, the State argues that the trial court erred by granting Moiduddin's motion to suppress evidence. It further argues that the trial court erred by sua sponte dismissing the indictment against Moiduddin. With respect

142 N.E.3d 1211

to the trial court's grant of Moiduddin's motion to suppress evidence, the State notes that Trooper Byers was reasonably concerned for Moiduddin's well-being because of the unusually slow speed at which Moiduddin was operating his vehicle. Specifically, the State asserts that Trooper Byers was concerned that Moiduddin's vehicle may have been mechanically impaired or that Moiduddin was suffering from a "medical episode." (Appellant's Brief at 11). Furthermore, the State notes that Trooper Byers was also concerned that Moiduddin and other motorists on the highway were imperiled by the presence of Moiduddin's slow-moving vehicle in fast-moving traffic. (Id. at 11-14). The State argues that, given these concerns, Trooper Byers's stop of Moiduddin's vehicle was constitutionally valid because Trooper Byers was exercising a "community caretaking" function when he stopped Moiduddin's vehicle. (Id. at 10-15). Regarding its contention that the trial court erred by sua sponte dismissing the indictment, the State argues that because the dismissal was apparently based on the trial court's supposedly erroneous decision to grant Moiduddin's motion to suppress, its decision to dismiss the indictment was also erroneous. (Id. at 5-6). We turn first to the State's argument that the trial court erred by granting Moiduddin's motion to suppress, followed by the State's argument that the trial court erred by sua sponte dismissing the indictment.

{¶9} "Appellate review of a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact." State v. Burnside , 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8. At a suppression hearing, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact and, as such, is in the best position to evaluate the evidence and the credibility of witnesses. Id. See State v. Carter , 72 Ohio St.3d 545, 552, 651 N.E.2d 965 (1995). When reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, "an appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence." Burnside at ¶ 8, citing State v. Fanning , 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 437 N.E.2d 583 (1982). With respect to the trial court's conclusions of law, however, our standard of review is de novo, and we must independently determine whether the facts satisfy the applicable legal standard. Id. , citing State v. McNamara , 124 Ohio App.3d 706, 707 N.E.2d 539 (4th Dist.1997).

{¶10} The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Furthermore, Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person and things to be seized.

"Historically, the protections afforded by Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution have been construed as coextensive with the protections of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution," with limited exceptions.

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State v. Box , 10th Dist. Franklin No. 16AP-371, 2017-Ohio-1138, 2017 WL 1162423, ¶ 17, citing State v. Geraldo , 68 Ohio St.2d 120, 125-126, 429 N.E.2d 141 (1981), State v. Robinette , 80 Ohio St.3d 234, 239, 685 N.E.2d 762 (1997), and State v. Jones , 88 Ohio St.3d 430, 434, 727 N.E.2d 886 (2000). See, e.g. , State v. Brown , 143 Ohio St.3d 444, 2015-Ohio-2438, 39 N.E.3d 496, ¶ 23 ("Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution affords greater protection than the Fourth Amendment against searches and seizures conducted by members of law enforcement who lack authority to make an arrest."). " ‘The primary purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to impose a standard of reasonableness upon the exercise of discretion by law enforcement officers in order to "safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary [governmental] invasions." ’ " State v. Kerr , 3d Dist. Allen No. 1-17-01, 2017-Ohio-8516, 2017 WL...

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2 practice notes
  • State v. Lawler, NO. 14-19-25
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 9, 2020
    ...or is about to commit a crime, including a violation of the traffic laws. State v. Moiduddin , 3d Dist. Union, 2019-Ohio-3544, 142 N.E.3d 1206, ¶ 11. However, "[w]hen police stop a vehicle without either probable cause or a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity, the seizure ......
  • Villas at E. Pointe Condo. Ass'n v. Strawser, No. 18AP-823
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • September 3, 2019
    ...Strawser was not served in conformance with R.C. 2329.44, which addresses notice to mortgagors of excess foreclosure sale proceeds.1 142 N.E.3d 1206 IV. CONCLUSION{¶ 24} Having found that the trial court erred in failing to consider whether to exercise its discretion in reviewing Carrington......
2 cases
  • State v. Lawler, NO. 14-19-25
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 9, 2020
    ...or is about to commit a crime, including a violation of the traffic laws. State v. Moiduddin , 3d Dist. Union, 2019-Ohio-3544, 142 N.E.3d 1206, ¶ 11. However, "[w]hen police stop a vehicle without either probable cause or a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity, the seizure ......
  • Villas at E. Pointe Condo. Ass'n v. Strawser, No. 18AP-823
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • September 3, 2019
    ...Strawser was not served in conformance with R.C. 2329.44, which addresses notice to mortgagors of excess foreclosure sale proceeds.1 142 N.E.3d 1206 IV. CONCLUSION{¶ 24} Having found that the trial court erred in failing to consider whether to exercise its discretion in reviewing Carrington......

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