White v. State

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtALMON; HORNSBY; MADDOX; STEAGALL
Citation550 So.2d 1081
Decision Date22 September 1989
PartiesEx parte State of Alabama. (Re Vanessa Rose WHITE v. STATE of Alabama). 88-1237.

Page 1081

550 So.2d 1081
Ex parte State of Alabama.
(Re Vanessa Rose WHITE
v.
STATE of Alabama).
88-1237.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Sept. 22, 1989.

Petition for writ of Certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals (3 Div. 835).

Appeal from the Circuit Court, Montgomery County, No. CC87 1153 PR.

Don Siegelman, Atty. Gen., and Stacey S. Houston, Asst. Atty. Gen., for petitioner.

Dennis Pierson, Montgomery, for respondent.

ALMON, Justice.

WRIT DENIED.

HORNSBY, C.J., and JONES, SHORES, ADAMS, HOUSTON and KENNEDY, JJ., concur.

MADDOX and STEAGALL, JJ., dissent.

MADDOX, Justice (dissenting).

With all due deference to the members of this Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals appears to me to be an effort to "refine and elaborate the requirements of 'reasonable suspicion' in this case [and create] unnecessary difficulty in dealing with one of the relatively simple concepts embodied in the Fourth Amendment." 1 In my opinion, the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals will severely cripple law enforcement investigations of criminal activity based on information furnished by a "citizen's tip" and will have a chilling effect on the right of police officers to investigate reports of criminal activity called in by citizens. 2

Page 1082

This is a case of first impression, involving an issue of national concern--the right of police, relying on an anonymous tip, to make an investigatory stop of an automobile. Because of the importance of this issue, this Court should at least grant the writ of certiorari and review the holding of the Court of Criminal Appeals, which I believe is wrong. The Court of Criminal Appeals' opinion is admittedly based upon that court's application of the old, discarded Aguilar 3 standard, which the Supreme Court of the United States has specifically said was "hypertechnical and divorced from 'the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.' " Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. 727, 732, 104 S.Ct. 2085, 2087, 80 L.Ed.2d 721 (1984). (Emphasis added.) Also, in considering this case, the Court of Criminal Appeals was without the benefit of the latest expression of the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 109 S.Ct. 1581, 104 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989).

The Court of Criminal Appeals compounds its error by citing the conclusions of a "legal technician," 4 who bases his position upon a dissenting opinion from an Idaho case decided 10 years before Upton was decided, and 15 years before Sokolow was decided. 5

Even more troubling is the reliance by the Court of Criminal Appeals upon a dissenting opinion in Jernigan v. Louisiana, 446 U.S. 958, 100 S.Ct. 2930, 64 L.Ed.2d 816 (1980). In the Jernigan dissent, the dissenting Justice merely stated that he would grant certiorari because the federal and state courts were divided on the issue of whether an anonymous tip may furnish reasonable suspicion for a stop and frisk. In my opinion, the Supreme Court, just one year after Jernigan, set out the test for a "stop and frisk" case in United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 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 Cortez:

"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."

449 U.S. at 418, 101 S.Ct. at 695.

Even a cursory reading of the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals shows that that court "weighed [the evidence] in terms of [a] library analysis by scholars," rather than "as understood by those versed in the field of law enforcement," thereby refusing to follow the guideline set out in Cortez. The Court of Criminal Appeals has obviously applied a "hypertechnical" examination of the facts, and has dealt in "possibilities" rather than "probabilities." 6

Page 1083

It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that the Court of Criminal Appeals has, in effect, resurrected the Aguilar standard in a "stop and frisk" setting by citing a dissenting opinion to support its conclusion, and engaging in the "library analysis" condemned by Cortez, supra.

The "hypertechnical" approach called for in Aguilar was specifically abandoned by the United States Supreme Court in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983), in search and seizure cases, where probable cause is required, and in that case a "totality of the circumstances" test was established. In Gates, the Court stated:

"[W]e conclude that it is wiser to abandon the 'two-pronged test' established by our decisions in Aguilar and Spinelli. In its place we reaffirm the totality-of-the-circumstances analysis that traditionally has informed probable-cause determinations."

462 U.S. at 238, 103 S.Ct. at 2332.

In Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. 727, 104 S.Ct. 2085, 80 L.Ed.2d 721 (1984), the Court more explicitly stated:

"We think that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts misunderstood our decision in Gates. We did not merely refine or qualify the 'two-pronged test.' We rejected it as hypertechnical and divorced from 'the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.' Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 175, 69 S.Ct. 1302, 1310, 93 L.Ed. 1879 (1949)."

Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. at 732, 104 S.Ct. at 2087.

In Upton and Gates, the Court repudiated the excessively technical analysis formulated in Aguilar and, in essence, adopted the approach espoused by Justice Black in his dissent in Whiteley v. Warden, 401 U.S. 560, 91 S.Ct. 1031, 28 L.Ed.2d 306 (1971).

Justice Black proposed a common-sense approach that stressed guarding against the real life probabilities of an infringement on individual rights, not the technical possibility that individual rights might be infringed in some hypothetical situation divorced...

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6 practice notes
  • Doggett v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 30, 2000
    ...reliable informants under Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), abrogation recognized by White v. State, 550 So.2d 1081 (Ala.1989); Brooks v. United States, 416 F.2d 1044 (1969), Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Davis v. State, [], 333 So.2d 168 [ (Ala.Cr.App.......
  • BROWN v. U.S., No. 86-1276
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • May 8, 1991
    ...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 'basis of knowledge' ", id., 110 S.Ct. at 2415......
  • Williams v. State, 8 Div. 300
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 16, 1990
    ...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 found that an anonymous telephone tip did not ......
  • Alabama v. White, No. 89-789
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1990
    ...550 So.2d 1074 (1989). The Supreme Court of Alabama denied the State's petition for writ of certiorari, two justices dissenting. 550 So.2d 1081 (1989). Because of differing views in the state and federal courts over whether an anonymous tip may furnish reasonable suspicion for a stop, we gr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Doggett v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 30, 2000
    ...reliable informants under Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), abrogation recognized by White v. State, 550 So.2d 1081 (Ala.1989); Brooks v. United States, 416 F.2d 1044 (1969), Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Davis v. State, [], 333 So.2d 168 [ (Ala.Cr.App.......
  • BROWN v. U.S., No. 86-1276
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • May 8, 1991
    ...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 'basis of knowledge' ", id., 110 S.Ct. at 2415......
  • Williams v. State, 8 Div. 300
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 16, 1990
    ...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 found that an anonymous telephone tip did not ......
  • Alabama v. White, No. 89-789
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1990
    ...550 So.2d 1074 (1989). The Supreme Court of Alabama denied the State's petition for writ of certiorari, two justices dissenting. 550 So.2d 1081 (1989). Because of differing views in the state and federal courts over whether an anonymous tip may furnish reasonable suspicion for a stop, we gr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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