State v. Rahier

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
Citation849 N.W.2d 212,2014 ND 153
Docket Number20140041.,Nos. 20140004,s. 20140004
PartiesSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant v. Jesse Lee RAHIER, Defendant and Appellee.
Decision Date17 July 2014

849 N.W.2d 212
2014 ND 153

STATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant
Jesse Lee RAHIER, Defendant and Appellee.

Nos. 20140004, 20140041.

Supreme Court of North Dakota.

July 17, 2014.

[849 N.W.2d 214]

Thomas A. Gehrz, Assistant Stark County State's Attorney, Dickinson, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.

Tatum O'Brien Lindbo, Fargo, ND, for defendant and appellee.

McEVERS, Justice.

[¶ 1] The State appeals from the district court's orders granting Jesse Lee Rahier's motions to suppress evidence. We affirm, concluding there was sufficient competent evidence to support the district court's decision that the arresting law enforcement officer lacked reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Rahier, and the district court's decisions do not go against the manifest weight of the evidence.


[¶ 2] On May 20, 2013, Stark County Sheriff's Deputy Ray Kaylor stopped Rahier's vehicle and, subsequently, arrested him for carrying a concealed weapon, hindering law enforcement, and disorderly conduct. Rahier moved to suppress evidence alleging the law enforcement officer lacked reasonable and articulable suspicion, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Rahier claimed the law enforcement officer's discovery of a concealed weapon was the result of an illegal search and should be suppressed. The State opposed the motions to suppress. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on the motions.

[¶ 3] At the hearing, the State presented testimony of several law enforcement officers who testified as to the events leading

[849 N.W.2d 215]

up to and during Rahier's stop and subsequent arrest. The testimony revealed that Deputy Kaylor received a call from Stark County Sheriff's Sergeant David Wallace for assistance in Belfield, North Dakota. Deputy Kaylor met with Sergeant Wallace, and two other law enforcement officers, at the Cenex SuperPumper in Belfield. Deputy Kaylor was informed that a green Volkswagen Jetta had circled, eight times, a two-block area where law enforcement officers reside. He was also informed the Volkswagen Jetta flashed its high-beam headlights at a patrol car and, immediately after, a person ran past the patrol car. The law enforcement officers decided to stop the vehicle if it circled the two-block area again. Deputy Kaylor observed the Volkswagen Jetta again circle the area and initiated a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle was Rahier, accompanied by a female passenger. Deputy Kaylor requested a driver's license, which Rahier provided. Stark County Sheriff's Deputy Solz arrived, after which Deputy Kaylor asked Rahier for the vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Rahier opened the glove box to retrieve the registration, and Deputy Solz observed a gun in the glove box. The gun belonged to Rahier, and he did not have a concealed weapons permit. The vehicle was owned by the female passenger, and the vehicle was not properly displaying license plates, which was discovered after the stop was initiated. Rahier was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and later charged with disorderly conduct and hindering law enforcement.

[¶ 4] Belfield Police Sergeant Travis Carlson testified he observed the Volkswagen Jetta following him and slowly circling the area where law enforcement officers reside eight times in approximately one hour. Sergeant Carlson testified he contacted Belfield Police Chief Nicky Barnhard, who directed him to seek assistance from the Stark County Sheriff's Office. The record does not reflect Deputy Kaylor was aware of the time frame of the vehicle circling eight times in an hour.

[¶ 5] Chief Barnhard testified to the following: (1) he was not on duty and did not attend the meeting at the Cenex SuperPumper; (2) he was at his residence where he observed the Volkswagen Jetta slowly circle his home twelve times in one hour; (3) the Volkswagen Jetta had followed patrolling Belfield police officers; (4) the vehicle would harass law enforcement officers during traffic stops; (5) in mid to late April 2013, at approximately 3:30 a.m., a fire destroyed a police vehicle in front of his house, and he suspected arson; and (6) in late April or early May 2013, at approximately 2:30 a.m., someone pounded on his bedroom window. The record does not reflect Deputy Kaylor was aware of any of this information prior to making the traffic stop.

[¶ 6] Sergeant Wallace testified that Sergeant Carlson had contacted him regarding “a vehicle that was following him around on patrol, stopping at any traffic stops that he made, getting out and recording him on the stops and also driving past law enforcement housing in Belfield multiple times.” The record does not reflect this information was known to Deputy Kaylor at the time of the stop.

[¶ 7] The district court granted Rahier's motion to suppress on the grounds that Deputy Kaylor did not have reasonable and articulable suspicion justifying the stop of Rahier's vehicle. The State appealed and filed its statement of prosecuting attorney, in accordance with N.D.C.C. § 29–28–07(5). The State argues the appeal is not taken for the purpose of delay and the suppressed evidence is substantial proof of a fact material in the proceeding.

[849 N.W.2d 216]

[¶ 8] The State argues the district court erred in finding Deputy Kaylor did not have reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Rahier. The State claims the evidence in the record supports a finding that Deputy Kaylor had reasonable and articulable suspicion that a motorist had violated or was violating the law.


[¶ 9] Under N.D.C.C. § 29–28–07, the prosecution's right to appeal in a criminal case is strictly limited. State v. Emil, 2010 ND 117, ¶ 5, 784 N.W.2d 137. An order suppressing evidence may be appealed by the State if the appeal is “accompanied by a statement of the prosecuting attorney asserting that the appeal is not taken for purpose of delay and that the evidence is a substantial proof of a fact material in the proceeding.” N.D.C.C. § 29–28–07(5). The prosecuting attorney's “statement should not merely paraphrase the requirements of N.D.C.C. § 29–28–07(5),” and the prosecution must support its appeal “with an explanation of the relevance of the suppressed evidence.” Emil, at ¶ 6. If the prosecution merely paraphrases the language of N.D.C.C. § 29–28–07(5) and fails to provide an explanation, “this Court may still...

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