State v. Mitchell

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 08-19-2015
  • Case #: A154686
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Tookey, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Hadlock, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Fourth Amendment, whether the causal connection between unlawful seizure of a defendant and the subsequent discovery of evidence is sufficiently attenuated by the intervening discovery of an outstanding warrant so as to purge the taint of the illegality depends on the temporal proximity between the unlawful police conduct and the discovery of the evidence, the presence of intervening circumstances, and the purpose and flagrancy of the unlawful police conduct.

Defendant moved to suppress evidence of possession of methamphetamine because, he argued, he was unlawfully seized. Defendant gave identifying information to a fare inspector upon the inspector’s request when the inspector thought Defendant had ridden a train without paying for the fare. The inspector though the information given by Defendant was false because the age given by Defendant and the Defendant’s apparent age did not match. The inspector escorted to a transit officer, who asked Defendant if he was being honest about his identity. Defendant finally responded with his correct identifying information and told the officer he had lied because he had a warrant. Based on this information, the officer verified Defendant’s identity and the warrant and arrested Defendant. Upon searching Defendant, police discovered Defendant had methamphetamine. Defendant’s motion to suppress was denied at trial because the court found the discovery of a warrant was an attenuating circumstance that cleared any taint of illegality based on an analysis of the factors expressed in State v. Bailey: (1) the temporal proximity between the unlawful police conduct and the discovery of the challenged evidence, (2) the presence of intervening circumstances, and (3) the purpose and flagrancy of the unlawful police conduct. The trial court determined that while the first factor supported suppression and the second might support suppression, the third Bailey factor clearly did not support suppression because the officer was not on a fishing expedition and had good cause to ascertain Defendant’s identity. On appeal, the Court held the facts of this case support the trial court’s finding that the potential unlawful police conduct and the challenged evidence was sufficiently attenuated by the discovery of the outstanding warrant such that any taint of illegality was purged. Reversed and remanded on other grounds.

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