Warick v. Commonwealth, 2018-SC-000229-DG

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtOPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE HUGHES
Citation592 S.W.3d 276
Parties Gary D. WARICK, Appellant v. COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee
Decision Date29 August 2019
Docket Number2018-SC-000229-DG

592 S.W.3d 276

Gary D. WARICK, Appellant
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee

2018-SC-000229-DG

Supreme Court of Kentucky.

AUGUST 29, 2019
Rehearing Denied February 20, 2020


COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Karen Shuff Maurer, Assistant Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear, Attorney General of Kentucky, Todd Dryden Ferguson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals.

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE HUGHES

Appellant Gary D. Warick entered a conditional Alford plea to one count of possession of a controlled substance, third degree, in Johnson County, and a conditional Alford plea to one count of possession of marijuana in Floyd County. In each case, he reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence which was obtained as a result of a traffic stop. In the consolidated appeal of the two cases, the Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the motions to suppress based on Warick’s lack of Fourth Amendment "standing." This Court granted discretionary review. Because the Court of Appeals erroneously analyzed Warick’s claim that the searches and seizures were illegal under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution, we vacate its decision. However, because we also conclude that the Floyd Circuit Court’s suppression order is factually insufficient for an appellate court’s review of Warick’s claim that his detention was unlawful and that the evidence obtained against him must be excluded as fruit of the poisonous tree, we remand the case to the Floyd Circuit Court for entry of sufficient findings of fact.

FACTS1 AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Warick and two passengers, Brian K. Bertram (Bertram) and Jessica C. Bertram, ordered at the drive-thru window at Dairy Queen in Prestonsburg, Floyd County, Kentucky, on June 5, 2014, at approximately 12:50 p.m. When Warick pulled to the side to wait for the order to be prepared, he backed into a parking space with the rear of his vehicle near a grassy area. Meanwhile, a Dairy Queen employee called the Prestonsburg police to report a possible DUI based on having seen an open container of beer in Warick’s car.

Officer Tussey arrived on the scene within a couple of minutes of being dispatched, and Lieutenant Clark and Assistant Chief Hall arrived shortly afterward. Sergeant Dixon arrived next, approximately ten to fifteen minutes after Tussey.

592 S.W.3d 279

Tussey approached Warick’s driver’s side and observed an open container of beer in the car’s console. In response to Tussey’s questioning, Warick twice denied drinking. Warick exited the vehicle at Tussey’s request and field sobriety tests were performed. Warick passed the tests which included a preliminary breath test that registered 0.00. Tussey’s pat-down search of Warick revealed he was carrying approximately $3,000 cash in his pockets.

Bertram was fidgety in the car, and at some point, he was removed from the vehicle.2 A search of Bertam’s person revealed a marijuana cigarette and a hypodermic needle.3

Tussey called for a K-9 unit. When the K-9 unit arrived and was being led to the car to do a sniff search, the dog alerted to the grassy area behind Warick’s car. The officers discovered a baggie of marijuana and a pill bottle about 10-15 feet away from the vehicle. The pill bottle, labeled as containing an antibiotic for Warick, actually contained seven oxycodone pills.

The officers then obtained and executed a search warrant for the car. The search revealed three cell phones and a napkin which the officers said appeared to be a drug ledger. Dixon testified that one of the cell phones showed incoming texts which appeared to discuss obtaining drugs. Warick was arrested.

Emit Thompson, of the Attorney General’s Office and a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Officer, was also present during the search and seizure. As a result of the Floyd County case, Thompson obtained a search warrant for Warick’s home in Johnson County. Upon execution of the warrant on June 6, officers discovered drug paraphernalia, marijuana, marijuana seeds, and marijuana plants.

Warick moved to have the evidence against him suppressed, alleging the items were discovered because the police unduly prolonged the DUI stop.4 The trial court denied the motion finding that the searches and seizures by the Prestonsburg Police Department resulted from a natural progression of events related to the traffic stop. Warick entered a conditional Alford plea in the Floyd County case to one count of possession of marijuana and was sentenced to forty-five (45) days in jail. He also entered a conditional Alford plea in the Johnson County case to one count of possession of a controlled substance, third degree, and was sentenced to thirty (30)

592 S.W.3d 280

days in jail.5 As noted, his appeals from the separate Floyd and Johnson Circuit Court judgments were consolidated.

Before the Court of Appeals, Warick argued that the trial court erred in its application of the law because the dog sniff search and the subsequent searches of his vehicle and his home were illegal, the searches having occurred after Tussey had accomplished the purpose of the traffic stop. The Commonwealth countered that the trial courts' judgments should be upheld because Warick did not have standing 1) to challenge the discovery of the marijuana and pill bottle containing oxycodone in the grassy area at the Dairy Queen, or 2) to raise a constitutional challenge concerning the police actions towards Bertram.6 The Court of Appeals agreed with the Commonwealth that Warick lacked standing to challenge the dog sniff search and affirmed both lower courts' judgments. In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals concluded that despite having the burden, Warick did not attempt to establish a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the grassy area adjacent to the Dairy Queen parking lot.

This Court granted discretionary review to consider whether Warick’s appeals were properly denied due to a lack of Fourth Amendment "standing" to challenge the dog sniff search and the resulting evidence against him. Although we agree with Warick that the Court of Appeals has mistaken the law to be applied to the facts of this case, and conclude he has the right to challenge the search and seizure, we also recognize that the trial court’s findings of fact regarding Warick’s search and seizure are not sufficient for an appellate court to determine whether the trial court correctly applied the law to the facts. Accordingly, because the issue of whether Warick’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated cannot be properly reviewed, we remand the case to the Floyd Circuit Court for further findings of fact sufficient to address Warick’s Fourth Amendment claim.

We begin with a summary of law pertinent to the invoking of Fourth Amendment protection, and we remind the bench and bar that a "standing" analysis is improper under Fourth Amendment substantive law.

ANALYSIS

I. Warick Properly Asserted that the Officers' Actions Infringed upon His Fourth Amendment Rights.

A. The Right to Invoke Fourth Amendment Protection.

The Fourth Amendment protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." This provision means that "each person has the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures in his own person, house, papers, and effects." Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 92, 119 S.Ct. 469, 142 L.Ed.2d 373 (1998) (Scalia, J., concurring, joined by Thomas, J.). The exclusionary rule, the rule that "evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in a criminal proceeding against the victim of the illegal search and seizure," was judicially created to safeguard that right. United States v. Calandra , 414 U.S. 338, 347-48, 94 S.Ct. 613, 38 L.Ed.2d 561 (1974) (citations omitted); see also

592 S.W.3d 281

Alderman v. United States , 394 U.S. 165, 171, 89 S.Ct. 961, 22 L.Ed.2d 176 (1969) (citing Weeks v. United States , 232 U.S. 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652 (1914), and Mapp v. Ohio , 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961) ). The rule excludes both the "primary evidence obtained as a direct result of an illegal search or seizure" and "evidence later discovered and found to be derivative of an illegality," commonly referred to as the "fruit of the poisonous tree." Segura v. United States , 468 U.S. 796, 804, 104 S.Ct. 3380, 82 L.Ed.2d 599 (1984) (citations omitted).

"Despite its broad deterrent purpose [against police misconduct], the exclusionary rule has never been interpreted to proscribe the use of illegally seized evidence in all proceedings or against all persons." Calandra, 414 U.S. at 348, 94 S.Ct. 613. Three exceptions to the rule "involve the causal relationship between the unconstitutional act and the discovery of evidence." Utah v. Strieff , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S. Ct. 2056, 2061, 195 L.Ed.2d 400 (2016). These exceptions are the independent source doctrine, the inevitable discovery doctrine, and the attenuation doctrine. Id. at 2061. The independent source doctrine ...

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8 practice notes
  • Commonwealth v. McCarthy, 2019-SC-0380-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • April 29, 2021
    ...to challenge the search, citing Commonwealth v. Duncan , 483 S.W.3d 353 (Ky. 2015). However, as we explained in Warick v. Commonwealth , 592 S.W.3d 276 (Ky. 2019), rather than focusing on standing, a defendant's right to raise a Fourth Amendment claim is properly analyzed under substantive ......
  • Bolin v. Commonwealth, NO. 2018-CA-000477-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • November 8, 2019
    ..."the bench and bar that a ‘standing’ analysis is improper under Fourth Amendment substantive law." Warick v. Commonwealth , 592 S.W.3d 276, 280, No. 2018-SC-000229-DG, 2019 WL 4072774, at *3 (Ky. Aug. 29, 2019). The logic is that all criminal defendants subjected to a search or se......
  • Thompson v. Commonwealth, NO. 2019-CA-1796-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • February 5, 2021
    ..."the bench and bar that a 'standing' analysis is improper under Fourth Amendment substantive law." Warick v. Commonwealth, 592 S.W.3d 276, 280 (Ky. 2019). The logic is that all criminal defendants subjected to a search or seizure by law enforcement officials technically have "......
  • Woolfolk v. Commonwealth, NO. 2019-CA-000988-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • June 26, 2020
    ...tree." Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 804, 104 S.Ct. 3380, 82 L.Ed.2d 599 (1984) (citations omitted).Warick v. Commonwealth, 592 S.W.3d 276, 280-81 (Ky. 2019), reh'g denied (Feb. 20, 2020) (citations omitted).Page 8 Only after a determination that a Fourth Amendment violation h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Commonwealth v. McCarthy, 2019-SC-0380-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • April 29, 2021
    ...to challenge the search, citing Commonwealth v. Duncan , 483 S.W.3d 353 (Ky. 2015). However, as we explained in Warick v. Commonwealth , 592 S.W.3d 276 (Ky. 2019), rather than focusing on standing, a defendant's right to raise a Fourth Amendment claim is properly analyzed under substantive ......
  • Bolin v. Commonwealth, NO. 2018-CA-000477-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • November 8, 2019
    ..."the bench and bar that a ‘standing’ analysis is improper under Fourth Amendment substantive law." Warick v. Commonwealth , 592 S.W.3d 276, 280, No. 2018-SC-000229-DG, 2019 WL 4072774, at *3 (Ky. Aug. 29, 2019). The logic is that all criminal defendants subjected to a search or se......
  • Thompson v. Commonwealth, NO. 2019-CA-1796-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • February 5, 2021
    ..."the bench and bar that a 'standing' analysis is improper under Fourth Amendment substantive law." Warick v. Commonwealth, 592 S.W.3d 276, 280 (Ky. 2019). The logic is that all criminal defendants subjected to a search or seizure by law enforcement officials technically have "......
  • Woolfolk v. Commonwealth, NO. 2019-CA-000988-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • June 26, 2020
    ...tree." Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 804, 104 S.Ct. 3380, 82 L.Ed.2d 599 (1984) (citations omitted).Warick v. Commonwealth, 592 S.W.3d 276, 280-81 (Ky. 2019), reh'g denied (Feb. 20, 2020) (citations omitted).Page 8 Only after a determination that a Fourth Amendment violation h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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