White v. State, 3 Div. 835

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtPATTERSON
Citation550 So.2d 1074
Docket Number3 Div. 835
Decision Date28 April 1989
PartiesVannessa Rose WHITE v. STATE.

Page 1074

550 So.2d 1074
Vannessa Rose WHITE
v.
STATE.
3 Div. 835.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
April 28, 1989.
Rehearing Denied June 16, 1989.

Page 1075

Dennis R. Pierson, Montgomery, for appellant.

Don Siegelman, Atty. Gen., and Stacy S. Houston, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

PATTERSON, Judge.

Appellant, Vannessa Rose White, was indicted in a two-count indictment for possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine, in violation of § 20-2-70, Code of Alabama 1975. Appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. After a hearing and subsequent denial of her motion to suppress, appellant pleaded guilty to the charges, reserving the right to raise, on appeal, the issue of the trial court's denial of her suppression motion. She was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary. The sentence was suspended, and appellant was placed on two years' supervised probation.

On April 22, 1987, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Corporal B.H. Davis received a phone call from an anonymous person, stating that Vannessa White would be leaving 235-C Lynwood Terrace Apartments at a particular time in a brown Plymouth station wagon with the right taillight lens broken and that she would be going to Dobey's Motel and would be in possession of about an ounce of cocaine inside a brown attache case. After the call, Davis and his partner, Corporal P.A. Reynolds, proceeded to Lynwood Terrace Apartments to keep the 235 building under surveillance. The officers saw a brown Plymouth station wagon with a broken right taillight in the parking lot in front of the 235 building. The officers observed appellant leave the 235 building, carrying nothing in her hands, and enter the station wagon. The officers followed appellant to the Mobile Highway, the highway on which Dobey's Motel is located. She took the most direct route possible toward Dobey's Motel. Reynolds then contacted a patrol unit and instructed the officers to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was stopped about 4:18 p.m. As the officers approached the vehicle, they observed that the car was full of clothes and that it looked as if appellant was in the process of moving. Davis asked appellant to step to the rear of the vehicle, where he informed her that the reason she had been stopped was that she was suspected of carrying cocaine in the vehicle and he asked her if they could look for cocaine. Appellant told the officers that they could look. The officers proceeded to search the car and found a brown, locked attache case. Davis testified that Reynolds saw the briefcase, he believed, on the backseat; the patrolman, who stopped appellant's vehicle, testified that, when he approached her vehicle, he observed the briefcase on the front seat, next to the driver. Upon request, appellant gave the officers the combination to the lock, and they opened the case. Inside the case, they found marijuana, empty plastic bags, and small manila envelopes. After the marijuana was found, Davis placed appellant under arrest and informed her of her Miranda rights, which she stated she understood. At police headquarters, appellant told the officers that "she had forgotten that the marijuana was in the briefcase and that she used to sell it and had not done so in a while." When appellant was being processed, the officers found three milligrams of cocaine in her purse, and appellant stated that "she used that to replace cocaine that she took from packages that she would obtain for other individuals."

Appellant seeks review of the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress. The specific issue that merits consideration here is, To what degree may a police officer rely on an anonymous tip in forming the reasonable, articulable suspicion necessary to justify an investigatory stop? See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968).

Page 1076

A valid investigatory stop does not require probable cause. Id.

"The officer need only be able to articulate specific facts and inferences that lead to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Terry, 392 U.S. at 21 [88 S.Ct. at 1879-80].... The degree of reasonable suspicion necessary to make a stop was articulated in United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18 [101 S.Ct. 690, 695, 66 L.Ed.2d 621] ... (1981): '(B)ased upon the whole picture the determining officer must have a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.' "

Crawley v. State, 440 So.2d 1148, 1149-50 (Ala.Cr.App.1983).

"The idea that an assessment of the whole picture must yield a particularized suspicion contains two elements, each of which must be present before a stop is permissible. First, the assessment must be based upon all of the circumstances. The analysis proceeds with various objective observations, information from police reports, if such are available, and consideration of the modes or patterns of operation of certain kinds of lawbreakers. From these data, a trained officer draws inferences and makes deductions--inferences and deductions that might well elude an untrained person.

"The process does not deal with hard certainties, but with probabilities.... [T]he evidence thus collected must be seen and weighed not in terms of library analysis by scholars, but as understood by those versed in the field of law enforcement.

"The second element contained in the idea that an assessment of the whole picture must yield a particularized suspicion is the concept that the process just described must raise a suspicion that the particular individual being stopped is engaged in wrongdoing. Chief Justice Warren, speaking for the Court in Terry v. Ohio, supra, said that '[t]his demand for specificity in the information upon which police action is predicated is the central teaching of this Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.' Id., at 21, n. 18 [88 S.Ct. at 1880, n. 18] (emphasis added). [Other citations omitted.]"

United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 418, 101 S.Ct. 690, 695, 66 L.Ed.2d 621 (1981).

"[A]s a practical matter, courts have evidenced confusion as to whether an anonymous tip can itself support a finding of reasonable suspicion." Note, Stop and Frisk in New York: Fleeing Suspects and Anonymous Tips, 12 Fordham Urb.L.J. 383, 401-02 (1984) (footnote omitted). See also Note, Stop and Frisk Based Upon Anonymous Telephone Tips, 39 Wash. & Lee L.Rev. 1437 (1982). This confusion has been aggravated by the fact that the Supreme Court has twice denied certiorari on the issue of whether an anonymous tip can establish reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop, see White v. United States, 454 U.S. 924, 102 S.Ct. 424, 70 L.Ed.2d 233, 235 (1981) (White, J., joined by Justice Brennan and Justice Marshall, dissenting from denial of certiorari), denying cert. to 648 F.2d 29 (D.C.Cir.1981), and Jernigan v. Louisiana, 446 U.S. 958, 100 S.Ct. 2930, 64 L.Ed.2d 816 (1980) (White, J., joined by Justice Brennan and Justice Marshall, dissenting from denial of certiorari), denying cert. to 377 So.2d 1222 (La.1979). The only proclamation by the Supreme Court pertaining to anonymous tips in a stop and frisk situation is dicta in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146, 92 S.Ct. 1921, 1923, 32 L.Ed.2d 612 (1972). There, in addressing the question of whether a known informant's tip can supply the reasonable suspicion necessary for a Terry stop and frisk, the Court commented that the tip under review was a stronger case justifying the stop than the case of an anonymous telephone tip. Id. In dissenting on the denial of certiorari in Jernigan v. Louisiana, Justice White stated the following:

"We have not directly decided whether an anonymous tip may furnish reasonable suspicion for a stop and frisk. We have emphasized the specificity of the information provided, the independent corroboration by the police officer, and the danger to the public. See, e.g., Adams [v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143 [92 S.Ct. 1921, 32 L.Ed.2d 612] ... (1972) ];

Page 1077

Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307 [79 S.Ct. 329, 3 L.Ed.2d 327] (1959). But in the decided cases, these factors were not the only indicia of reliability. The informers in Adams and Draper were known to the officer and were known to have provided reliable information in the past. The same cannot be said of an anonymous tipster.

"Arguably, the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court is inconsistent with our prior cases which require that reasonable suspicion be based on a sufficiently reliable informer's tip. I would grant certiorari for this...

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9 practice notes
  • State v. Williams
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • 4 Septiembre 1991
    ...the Novembrino analysis the adoption of Gates in New Jersey does not entirely abandon the Aguilar analysis. See also White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.1989), rev'd 496 U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990), applying a similar Gates- Aguilar analysis to a Terry stop The ......
  • BROWN v. U.S., No. 86-1276
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 8 Mayo 1991
    ...In White, as in this case, there was a gap in the police testimony regarding the relevant times. 110 S.Ct. at 2417. 21. State v. White, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 550 So.2d 1081 22. The White tip included specific, factual data from which " 'veracity', 'reliability' and 'ba......
  • White v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 22 Septiembre 1989
    ...101 S.Ct. 690, 66 L.Ed.2d 621 (1981), a case cited, but not followed, by the Court of Criminal Appeals in its opinion, White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074, 1076 (Ala.Crim.App.1989). The Supreme Court said in "The process does not deal with hard certainties, but with probabilities.... [T]he evide......
  • Williams v. State, 8 Div. 300
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 16 Marzo 1990
    ...test for determining probable cause set out in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). In White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 550 So.2d 1081 (Ala.1989), cert. granted, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 834, 107 L.Ed.2d 830 (1990), this Court fo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • State v. Williams
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • 4 Septiembre 1991
    ...the Novembrino analysis the adoption of Gates in New Jersey does not entirely abandon the Aguilar analysis. See also White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.1989), rev'd 496 U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990), applying a similar Gates- Aguilar analysis to a Terry stop The ......
  • BROWN v. U.S., No. 86-1276
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 8 Mayo 1991
    ...In White, as in this case, there was a gap in the police testimony regarding the relevant times. 110 S.Ct. at 2417. 21. State v. White, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 550 So.2d 1081 22. The White tip included specific, factual data from which " 'veracity', 'reliability' and 'ba......
  • White v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 22 Septiembre 1989
    ...101 S.Ct. 690, 66 L.Ed.2d 621 (1981), a case cited, but not followed, by the Court of Criminal Appeals in its opinion, White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074, 1076 (Ala.Crim.App.1989). The Supreme Court said in "The process does not deal with hard certainties, but with probabilities.... [T]he evide......
  • Williams v. State, 8 Div. 300
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 16 Marzo 1990
    ...test for determining probable cause set out in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). In White v. State, 550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 550 So.2d 1081 (Ala.1989), cert. granted, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 834, 107 L.Ed.2d 830 (1990), this Court fo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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