Archive | Particularized suspicion

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State v. Nelson

State v. Nelson, 2017 MT 237 (Sept. 26, 2017) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Nelson’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: In July 2015, a waitress and a coworker called 911 to report a drunk person driving away from the restaurant where they worked. MHP Officer Burson was on patrol when he received the report from dispatch. Eleven minutes after the initial report, he located the vehicle in a hotel parking lot, where he observed it drive from the check-in area to a parking spot. The officer activated his lights and made contact with the driver, Nelson. After conducting a DUI investigation, he arrested Nelson for DUI.…

State v. Hoover

State v. Hoover, 2017 MT 236 (Sept. 21, 2017) (Sandefur, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the Justice Court erred in denying Hoover’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: On a warm summer night in 2013. Steven Hoover and an adult female acquaintance drove into an ungated, 24-hour private mini-storage complex near Kalispell, and parked in a secluded spot near the back to engage in consensual intimacy. A deputy sheriff patrolling the adjacent automobile dealership noticed the truck parked in the dark. He stopped and turned off his lights, and saw the silhouettes of two people in the truck. Based on his experience, he suspected a storage unit break-in and summoned other law enforcement officers to assist him.…

City of Missoula v. Tye

City of Missoula v. Tye, 2016 MT 153 (June 21, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in affirming the municipal court’s order denying Tye’s motion so suppress.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: A man called 911 at 1:37 am one night in May 2014 to report a drunk driver. He told the dispatcher where he was driving, what the car looked like, and what the driver was doing. He could not describe the driver because of the car’s tinted windows, and could not see the license plate. He gave his name and phone number, and said he could be contacted. He said he would possibly sign a complaint if necessary.

A Missoula police officer responded to the report, and passed a vehicle in the vicinity of the report that fit the description given.…

Brunette v. State

Brunette v. State, 2016 MT 128 (May 31, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Brunette’s petition to reinstate his driver’s license. 

Short Answer: No.


Facts: In April 2015, Officer Brotnov was on patrol in Cut Bank. Police department dispatch received a call form an unknown officer to run a license plat check on Burnette’s vehicle, parked on Central Avenue. Sometime later, Officer Brotnov drove past Brunett’e vehicle, at which point Brotnov turned around and drove in the opposite direction. Brotnov and another officer continued to patrol the area, discussing Brunette’s whereabouts. After observing Brunette pull over and change directions twice, officer Brotnov began to follow Brunette, saw him make a right-hand turn without using his turn signal, and initiated a traffic stop.…

State v. Ballinger

State v. Ballinger, 2016 MT 300 (Feb. 9, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in finding the police officer had particularized suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of Ballinger.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: A neighbor called police one night to report the front door of a house across the street was open. Officer Morrison arrived and found the front door open, the lights on, and no one around. He parked his vehicle and waited. He then saw a man and woman, later identified as Ballinger and Julie Ramirez, get out of a car and walk toward the open house. He got out and spoke to them, explaining why he was there and asking where they were going.…

City of Missoula v. Sharp

City of Missoula v. Sharp, 2015 MT 289 (Oct. 6, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the officer had sufficient objective data to form particularized suspicion to justify the investigatory stop of Sharp.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Officer Lloyd was parked in downtown Missoula one November night when he observed several vehicles stop at a stoplight, one of which was sharp’s pickup. The speed limit there is 25 mph. When the light turned green, Lloyd heard Sharp rev the engine and speed across the intersection, leaving the other cars behind. Lloyd turned into traffic and followed Sharp with his lights activated. Sharp stopped after a few blocks. Lloyd noticed Sharp slurring his speech, and was eventually charged with DUI after refusing to submit to a breath or alcohol test.…

Kummerfeldt v. State

Kummerfeldt v. State, 2015 MT 109 (April 21, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly denied Kummerfeldt’s petition for reinstatement of his driver’s license.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Kummerfeldt was stopped after a sheriff’s deputy observed him driving fast, crossing the centerline, and swerving. Seeing Kummerfeldt’s glassy, bloodshot eyes, the deputy asked Kummerfeldt to take a preliminary breath test. Kummerfeldt did not answer immediately, instead discussing it for almost 20 minutes. He eventually took the test, which reported a BAC of .232%. The deputy arrested Kummerfeldt and took him to the county jail, where he attempted to administer a breath test but could not because of incomplete testing equipment. He therefore requested Kummerfeldt to submit to a blood test, which Kummerfeldt refused, saying he did not want to get poked by needles.…

State v. Dupree

State v. Dupree, 2015 MT 103 (April 14, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly denied Dupree’s motion to suppress evidence found in the search of her purse, and (2) whether the district court improperly altered its oral pronouncement in the written judgment.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes. 

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: A Havre police officer and drug task force member received a call from a border patrol agent advising him he had received a call from an Amtrak agent saying Billie Rae Dupree would be leaving the train station later that day with drugs in her possession. The officers went to the station, approached Dupree and identified themselves, and told her about the tip they had received.…

Mitchell v. Dept. of Justice

Mitchell v. Dept. of Justice, 2015 MT 120 (Apr. 8, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether a momentary deviation from a lane of traffic violates § 61-8-328, MCA.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Officer began following two cars one night near Red Lodge. After some time, car in front of officer passed Mitchell, who was two cars ahead of patrolman. As it was passed, Mitchell’s car crossed yellow center line. Before being passed, Mitchell’s vehicle crossed the fog line. Officer stopped Mitchell and cited him for crossing center line. Mitchell refused a breath alcohol test, resulting in suspension of his driver’s license.

Procedural Posture & Holding: A month later, Mitchell petitioned the district court to reinstate his license. After a hearing, lower court denied the petition, finding Mitchell’s car slightly crossed over the center yellow line in violation of § 61-8-328, MCA.…

State v. Duong

State v. Duong, 2015 MT 70 (March 3, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the officer had particularized suspicion to stop Duong’s vehicle; (2) whether the district court erred in ordering Duong to pay for the costs of his interpreter; and (3) whether the district court erred in imposing a 10% administration fee on Duong.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes; and (3) yes.

Affirmed (1), reversed (2 & 3), and remanded for revision of the sentence 

Facts: Trooper Muri was patrolling on I-94 near Glendive one night with DEA Agent Smith in the car with him. The patrol car was stationary along the road when Duong drove past. The officer pulled onto the road and traveled at high speed before reaching Duong’s vehicle, which he followed for about two miles.…