State v. Schneider, 1143

Citation389 N.W.2d 604
Decision Date19 June 1986
Docket NumberNo. 1143,1143
PartiesSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Thomas SCHNEIDER, Defendant and Appellant. Crim.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota

James O. Johnson, Asst. State's Atty., Stanton, for plaintiff and appellee.

Gregory L. Lange, of Richardson, Blaisdell, Isakson & Lange, Hazen, for defendant and appellant.


Thomas Schneider appealed from the judgment of conviction by the county court of Mercer County for possession of a controlled substance. Schneider argues that the evidence should not have been admitted because it was obtained by an improper search and seizure and that the trial court erred in receiving an uncertified copy of the State Laboratories' report determining the nature of the substance. We affirm.

On April 30, 1985, Rodney C. Sagen, a Beulah police officer, stopped Schneider for speeding. Sagen asked Schneider to sit in the front passenger's seat of the police car for the purpose of giving him a ticket. While issuing the ticket Sagen noticed a bulge under Schneider's leather coat that appeared to be a revolver in a shoulder holster.

Following issuance of the citation for speeding, Sagen asked Schneider to step in front of the police car on the pretext of checking his motorcycle registration. When they reached the front of the vehicle, Sagen conducted a pat-down search by placing his hand on the outside of Schneider's coat, and, feeling a "solid lump," opened the jacket and found a heavy-duty freezer bag containing 27.48 grams of marijuana. Sagen arrested Schneider for possession of marijuana.

Schneider moved to suppress the marijuana, claiming that the evidence was obtained by an illegal search that violated Schneider's Fourth Amendment rights, applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The lower court denied the motion, applying the case of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), and holding that because Sagen was convinced that Schneider had a gun in a shoulder harness and surmised a dangerous situation, the search was reasonable and therefore did not violate Schneider's constitutional rights.

We observe at the outset that "[a] trial court's denial of a suppression motion will be reversed if, after resolving conflicts in the testimony in favor of an affirmance, there is insufficient competent evidence fairly capable of supporting the trial court's determination." State v. Placek, 386 N.W.2d 36, 37 (N.D.1986). According to Terry, a police officer may conduct a stop and frisk of an individual under certain well-delineated situations:

"[W]here a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others' safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him." 392 U.S. at 30, 88 S.Ct. at 1884-85, 20 L.Ed.2d at 911. [Emphasis added.]

There is no question as to Sagen's justification to stop Schneider for speeding and the evidence clearly supports the trial court's conclusion that there was an articulable and reasonable basis for Sagen's suspecting that Schneider was armed. The harder question is whether there was sufficient basis to conclude that Schneider was "presently dangerous."

Sagen testified that he believed that there might have been danger because

"felons don't carry handguns underneath their coats. There would be no reason for him to carry a handgun underneath his coat other than to protect himself or to fire it at something. At that time of night you don't hunt, there is no reasonable reason to have a handgun underneath your coat that time of night to protect yourself against something."...

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7 cases
  • Ransome v. State, 19
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Febrero 2003
    ...uniformed officers and was seen clutching bulge in left front coat pocket; when apprehended, police patted area); State v. Schneider, 389 N.W.2d 604 (N.D.1986) (as defendant sat in patrol car awaiting issuance of traffic ticket, officer noticed bulge under defendant's coat that appeared to ......
  • Lantion v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Record No. 2617-05-4 (Va. App. 12/18/2007), Record No. 2617-05-4
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 18 Diciembre 2007
    ...suspicion of some criminal activity is enough," id., to satisfy the reasonable suspicion standard. 4. See, e.g., State v. Schneider, 389 N.W.2d 604, 605 (N.D. 1986); Cobbs, 711 P.2d at 907; People v. Moore, 295 N.E.2d 780, 783-84 (N.Y. 1973); State v. Lackey, 444 N.E.2d 1047, 1049 n.2 (Ohio......
  • State v. Lafond
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • 3 Abril 2003
    ...frisk him upon seeing a bulge in [defendant's] pocket that was thought by the police officer possibly to be a gun."); State v. Schneider, 389 N.W.2d 604, 604-05 (N.D.1986) (holding Terry frisk was justified when officer, while issuing traffic ticket, "noticed a bulge under [defendant's] lea......
  • State v. Haugen, Cr. 1157
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 20 Agosto 1986
    ...evidence should be excluded for lack of authentication is primarily within the sound discretion of the trial court. See State v. Schneider, 389 N.W.2d 604 (N.D.1986)." It is uniformly recognized that a document may be authenticated by circumstantial evidence, such as the events preceding, s......
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