WA Legal Roundup: Division II
McCormick appeals her conviction for methamphetamine possession, arguing that the search and seizure wherein the police officer discovered the drugs was an illegal search and seizure in violation of her constitutional rights and rights to privacy. McCormick was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for broken taillight. Upon discovering that the driver of the vehicle had a warrant for her arrest for failure to pay tickets, the police officer arrested the driver and searched the vehicle, including a bag belonging to McCormick located on the floor of the front passenger side of the vehicle.
After conviction, but prior to the appellate hearing, the Supreme Court issued Arizona v. Grant, which held that a search, practically identical to the one involving McCormick that lead to the discovery of meth, was unconstitutional and violated the search and seizure rights of the Fourth Amendment.
The court first determined that the ruling in Grant applied to McCormick’s case even though she had already been convicted. The court decided that the case did apply because cases were to apply retroactively to all similarly situated defendants in Washington. Moreover, the court determined that McCormick had preserved the matter for appeal.
Finally, the court applied the Fourth Amendment and the Grant case to McCormick’s case. The court held that similarly in Grant, the search was unlawful because the driver could not have accessed the car to retrieve weapons or evidence at the time of the search and that the police had no possibility of discovering the drug related evidence without a search. Moreover, the court reasoned that, like in Grant, there was no officer safely justification for the search. The State argued that the office searched the vehicle in good faith, relying on pre-Grant law, however, the court rejected the good faith argument in favor of the doctrine of retroactivity.
McCormick’s conviction was reversed.