WA Supreme Court: Court Invalidates Terry Stop Outside of Drug House; Could Have Reversed On Vehicle Search Grounds But Chose Terry Stop
Doughty stopped by a drug house for a couple minutes and drove away. An officer stopped him, and ran a records check and found he had a suspended. They searched incident to arrest and found meth.
Those familiar with the recent slew of search and seizure cases that have been coming down know that they can search the vehicle for something instrumental to the crime and in the immediate vicinity, but no longer have a full blanket ability to search the entire vehicle. Thus, the meth they found incident to arrest in the vehicle search is out:
Oooops. Helps if I read the whole opinion. The terry stop itself is out!
In contrast, here Bishop relied only on his own incomplete observations. There was no informant's tip (which was the element we found most persuasive in Kennedy, id. at 6-8) and no furtive movement. Bishop merely saw Doughty approach and leave a suspected drug house at 3:20 a.m. Bishop had no idea what, if anything, Doughty did at the house. The totality of these circumstances does not warrant intrusion into Doughty's private affairs.
. . .
A more apt analogy rests with State v. Gleason, 70 Wn. App. 13, 851 P.2d 731 (1993). Based on the totality of the circumstances, the Gleason court held it improper to seize a person merely for exiting an apartment complex that had a history of drug sales. Id. at 18. The court reasoned that "this was the first time the defendant had been seen in the area, the officers did not know what occurred inside the apartment and neither officer saw him involved in the purchase of drugs. Further, there was no evidence Mr. Gleason was acting suspiciously, he was not carrying any unusual objects." Id. (citation omitted). That statement describes the events in Doughty's chronology almost exactly.
Officer Bishop lacked sufficient specific and articulable facts to seize Doughty. No legal basis existed for the Terry stop. If a Terry stop is unlawful, the fruits obtained as a result must be suppressed. See Garvin, 166 Wn.2d at 254. "'The exclusionary rule mandates the suppression of evidence gathered through unconstitutional means.'" Id. (quoting State v. Duncan, 146 Wn.2d 166, 176, 43 P.3d 513 (2002)); see also Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S. Ct. 407, 9 L. Ed. 2d 441 (1963). Accordingly, suppression of the evidence obtained after the unlawful seizure in this case is proper.
Now, here's what I'm seeing. The court really wanted to take a look at this Terry stop issue. They could have gotten rid of the conviction on the grounds I talked about earlier. They didn't? Is this a commentary on our State