State v. Stavish, No. A14–0771.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtDIETZEN, Justice.
Citation868 N.W.2d 670
Docket NumberNo. A14–0771.
Decision Date19 August 2015
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Derek Lawrence STAVISH, Appellant.

868 N.W.2d 670

STATE of Minnesota, Respondent
v.
Derek Lawrence STAVISH, Appellant.

No. A14–0771.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

Aug. 19, 2015.


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, MN; and Michelle M. Zehnder Fischer, Nicollet County Attorney, James P. Dunn, Chief Deputy County Attorney, Saint Peter, MN, for respondent.

James M. Ventura, James M. Ventura Attorney at Law, Wayzata, MN; Michael S. Gaarder, Pennington & Cherne PLLC, St. Cloud, Minnesota; and John J. Neal, Willenbring, Dahl, Wocken & Zimmermann PLLC, Cold Spring, MN, for appellant.

OPINION

DIETZEN, Justice.

Appellant Derek Stavish was charged with three counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in death, two counts of fourth-degree driving while impaired, reckless driving, and careless driving arising out of a single-vehicle rollover crash on June 18, 2012, that resulted in the death of Brent Lehnen and serious injuries to Stavish. Stavish moved to suppress alcohol concentration test results from a blood draw taken after the accident on the grounds that his blood was drawn without a warrant and without his consent. The district court granted the motion to suppress concluding, in part, that the State failed to satisfy the exigent circumstances exception as applied in Missouri v. McNeely, ––– U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the State established exigent circumstances that justified the warrantless search. State v. Stavish, 852 N.W.2d 906, 909 (Minn.App.2014). Because we agree that the State established that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood draw in this case, we affirm.

On the evening of June 18, 2012, the Minnesota State Patrol responded to a 911 call regarding a vehicle crash in rural Nicollet County. Based upon an investigation at the scene, officers determined that the accident resulted in one fatality, that the alleged driver, appellant Derek Stavish, was seriously injured, and that alcohol may have been a factor in the accident. An officer obtained a blood draw from Stavish and later testing of that blood revealed an alcohol concentration of 0.20.

The State filed seven criminal charges against Stavish: (1) criminal vehicular operation resulting in death, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.21, subd. 1(1) (2012) (operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner); (2) criminal vehicular operation resulting in death, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.21, subd. (1)(2)(i) (operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner while under the influence of alcohol); (3) criminal vehicular operation resulting in death, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.21, subd. 1(3) (operating a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or

868 N.W.2d 673

more); (4) fourth-degree driving while impaired (DWI), in violation of Minn.Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(1) (2014) (driving while under the influence of alcohol); (5) fourth-degree DWI, in violation of section 169A.20, subd. 1(5) (driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, as measured within 2 hours of driving); (6) reckless driving, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 169.13, subd. 1 (2014) ; and (7) careless driving, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 169.13, subd. 2 (2014).

Stavish brought a motion to suppress the alcohol concentration test results. The parties acknowledged that when Stavish's blood was drawn, our decision in State v. Shriner, 751 N.W.2d 538, 548–50 (Minn.2008), abrogated by Missouri v. McNeely, ––– U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013), permitted a warrantless, nonconsensual blood draw from a defendant, provided that the officer had probable cause to believe the defendant had committed criminal vehicular homicide or operation. But the parties also acknowledged that the United States Supreme Court's decision in McNeely, –––U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, which abrogated Shriner, was released prior to the omnibus hearing and was applicable to this case. Stavish argued that the blood draw constituted a warrantless, nonconsensual search taken in violation of his constitutional rights. The State countered that the exigencies of the situation justified a warrantless search under McNeely, ––– U.S. at ––––, 133 S.Ct. at 1561.

After a contested omnibus hearing, the district court set forth the operative facts in two pretrial orders. Law enforcement received a report of a crash at 10:28 p.m. Sergeant Martens testified that the first officers to arrive at the accident scene observed that there had been a single-vehicle rollover crash involving a pickup truck. When Sergeant Martens arrived at the crash site around 10:45 p.m., he was informed that two people had been ejected from the vehicle and that one person had died. The other person ejected, later identified as Stavish, sustained serious injuries, was transported by ambulance to New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC), and would possibly be transported by helicopter from NUMC to a medical trauma center. Before he was transported to NUMC, Stavish admitted to one of the officers that he was the driver of the vehicle.

The officers at the accident scene decided that Sergeant Martens would go to the hospital to determine the involvement of alcohol in the crash. Upon arrival at the NUMC emergency room, Sergeant Martens spoke to Stavish, who was being tended by multiple medical personnel. Stavish smelled strongly of alcohol, and admitted to Sergeant Martens that he had been drinking prior to the crash. Sergeant Martens advised an emergency room nurse that he needed a blood draw from Stavish, and a sample was drawn at 11:18 p.m. Testing of the blood sample revealed an alcohol concentration of 0.20.

Sergeant Martens testified that he believed he had the authority to obtain the blood sample under Minnesota law, and therefore did not secure a warrant or obtain Stavish's consent. Sergeant Martens admitted that, at the time Stavish's blood was drawn, 70 minutes remained in the 2–hour window for obtaining a blood sample. Sergeant Martens did not ask hospital personnel whether Stavish would be airlifted to another medical center, and did not attempt to contact the on-call judge or prosecutor to obtain a telephonic warrant.

In a September 2013 pretrial order, the district court denied Stavish's motion to suppress the alcohol concentration test results. The court concluded the State failed to prove exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood draw, but that

868 N.W.2d 674

the alcohol concentration test results were admissible under the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule because, at the time the blood draw was taken, such a search was deemed constitutional.See Shriner, 751 N.W.2d at 549–50.

Stavish filed a motion for the district court to reconsider its decision. The district court, relying upon State v. Brooks, 838 N.W.2d 563 (Minn.2013), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 134 S.Ct. 1799, 188 L.Ed.2d 759 (2014), filed a second pretrial order in May 2014 that granted Stavish's motion to reconsider and suppressed the alcohol concentration test results on the ground that this court declined to resolve Brooks on the basis of a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The court denied the State's motion to reconsider the exigency determination. The State appealed the second pretrial order.

The court of appeals reversed the district court's order suppressing the alcohol concentration test results, concluding that the exigencies of the situation justified a warrantless blood draw, and that the blood draw was therefore constitutional. State v. Stavish, 852 N.W.2d 906, 909 (Minn.App.2014). The court of appeals did not reach the good-faith exception issue. We granted review.

I.

Because this is a State's pretrial appeal, we first must determine whether the suppression of the alcohol concentration test results will have a critical impact on the State's case. A pretrial order may be appealed only when the State shows “the district court's alleged error, unless reversed, will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.” Minn. R.Crim. P. 28.04, subd. 2(b). When a pretrial order suppresses evidence in a criminal prosecution, the State must show that excluding the evidence “significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful prosecution.” State v. Zais, 805 N.W.2d 32, 36 (Minn.2011) (citations omitted). Previously, we have held that critical impact is established if the exclusion of evidence would prevent the State from successfully prosecuting one of the specific charges. State v. Underdahl, 767 N.W.2d 677, 684 (Minn.2009) (holding that “an order that dismisses DWI charges, even when other charges remain, will have a critical impact on the prosecution's case”); State v. Hicks, 301 Minn. 350, 353, 222 N.W.2d 345, 347 (1974) (holding that a pretrial order suppressing the results of an alcohol concentration test was appealable by the State because the order prevented successful prosecution for the charged offense of driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.10 or greater, even though other charges were not affected).

We conclude the State has established that it cannot prove an essential element of two of the charged counts if the alcohol concentration evidence is suppressed. Specifically, the count charging Stavish with criminal vehicular homicide, in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.21, subd. 1(3), and the count charging Stavish with fourth-degree DWI, in violation of...

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54 practice notes
  • State v. Howes, No. 2014AP1870-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • March 1, 2017
    ...that exigent circumstances 373 Wis.2d 497justified a search under circumstances similar to that of Schmerber . See Minnesota v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 676-77 (Minn. 2015). In Stavish , the Minnesota Supreme Court concluded that, under the totality of circumstances, a warrantless blood dr......
  • People v. Eubanks, No. 1–14–2837
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 26, 2017
    ...circumstances presented in each case" (emphasis omitted) (citing McNeely , 569 U.S. at 151–56, 133 S.Ct. 1552 )); State v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 680 (Minn. 2015) (the fact of a fatality in a drunk-driving case does not, by itself, create an exigency sufficient to justify a warrantl......
  • Ries v. State, A16-0220
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 5, 2018
    ...U.S. Const. amend. IV. Searches conducted without a warrant are "presumptively unreasonable." State v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 675 (Minn. 2015). However, because "the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness," that presumption may be overcome if a ......
  • People v. Harrison, No. 5–15–0048.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 18, 2016
    ...death or personal injury to another, section 11–501.2(c)(2) may still be constitutional in light of McNeely. But see State v. Stavish, 868 N.W.2d 670, 677–80 (Minn.2015) (concluding that under McNeely 's totality-of-the-circumstances approach, the loss of life “does not reduce the quantum o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
54 cases
  • State v. Howes, No. 2014AP1870-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • March 1, 2017
    ...that exigent circumstances 373 Wis.2d 497justified a search under circumstances similar to that of Schmerber . See Minnesota v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 676-77 (Minn. 2015). In Stavish , the Minnesota Supreme Court concluded that, under the totality of circumstances, a warrantless blood dr......
  • People v. Eubanks, No. 1–14–2837
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 26, 2017
    ...circumstances presented in each case" (emphasis omitted) (citing McNeely , 569 U.S. at 151–56, 133 S.Ct. 1552 )); State v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 680 (Minn. 2015) (the fact of a fatality in a drunk-driving case does not, by itself, create an exigency sufficient to justify a warrantl......
  • Ries v. State, A16-0220
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 5, 2018
    ...U.S. Const. amend. IV. Searches conducted without a warrant are "presumptively unreasonable." State v. Stavish , 868 N.W.2d 670, 675 (Minn. 2015). However, because "the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness," that presumption may be overcome if a ......
  • People v. Harrison, No. 5–15–0048.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 18, 2016
    ...death or personal injury to another, section 11–501.2(c)(2) may still be constitutional in light of McNeely. But see State v. Stavish, 868 N.W.2d 670, 677–80 (Minn.2015) (concluding that under McNeely 's totality-of-the-circumstances approach, the loss of life “does not reduce the quantum o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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