Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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When an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is raised on direct appeal from a criminal conviction, the defendant must show ineffectiveness of constitutional dimensions from the face of the existing record to obtain relief. Wesley Cody appealed the district court's order requiring Cody pay $13,455.78 in restitution as part of his sentence in a criminal matter. Cody argued that his counsel was ineffective at his restitution hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the record before it did not affirmatively show ineffectiveness of constitutional dimensions, and this issue was more properly pursued in a post-conviction relief proceeding. The Court therefore affirmed, but remanded for correction of the amount of restitution in the judgment. View "North Dakota v. Cody" on Justia Law

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Police officers outside of their jurisdiction generally act without official capacity and authority to arrest. A University of North Dakota (UND) police officer has the authority to initiate a traffic stop of a driver operating a motor vehicle on university property. Todd Wilkie appealed a criminal judgment after conditionally pleading guilty to reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer and driving under suspension, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss the case. UND police officer Anthony Thiry was traveling east on Gateway Drive when he saw a vehicle traveling east on the 3000 block of Gateway Drive at a fast rate of speed and exhibiting erratic driving behavior. Officer Thiry checked the vehicle's license plate and discovered the owner, Wilkie, had a suspended drivers license. The vehicle driver matched Wilkie's description. According to Officer Thiry, he activated his overhead lights attempting to stop Wilkie, but the vehicle sped past, ultimately becoming disabled from hitting a median. Wilkie fled by foot and was apprehended.  Wilkie filed a motion to suppress evidence and dismiss the case, arguing Officer Thiry lacked jurisdiction to stop him. After a hearing the district court entered an order finding Officer Thiry was within the UND police department's jurisdiction and had official capacity and power to arrest Wilkie because UND owns the property encompassing the eastbound lane of Gateway Drive. The district court further determined Officer Thiry was in hot pursuit of Wilkie when Wilkie did not stop his vehicle within UND police department's jurisdiction. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Wilkie" on Justia Law

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When a party objects to the State's admission of evidence with a pretrial motion in limine, the party must renew their objection at trial in order to give the district court an opportunity to rule on the issue at trial. A party's failure to renew their objection at trial acts as a waiver of the claim of error. Harold Shick appealed a district court's judgment entered after a jury convicted him of terrorizing, reckless endangerment, felonious restraint, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Shick's motion for a mistrial, and there was sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict. View "North Dakota v. Shick" on Justia Law

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The preliminary hearing is a tool to ferret out groundless and improvident prosecutions; the State is not required to prove with absolute certainty or beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred, but need only produce sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that a crime occurred and that the defendant committed it. The State appealed a district court order dismissing with prejudice a class B felony charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver against Kensley Turbeville for lack of probable cause. Turbeville was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia following the execution of a search warrant at Turbeville's residence. Turbeville's counsel questioned the officer about the amount of marijuana found. The officer testified he did not feel he could get an accurate weight and that it was being analyzed at the state crime lab. The officer testified the individual "nuggets" of marijuana were not packaged separately. Turbeville argued there was nothing presented at the hearing to indicate she had intent to deliver. The State argued there was sufficient evidence presented for probable cause Turbeville possessed marijuana with intent to deliver. Because the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the State produced sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for a charge of class B felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, it reversed and remanded. View "North Dakota v. Turbeville" on Justia Law

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During an investigatory stop of a vehicle, a traffic violator can be temporarily detained until the legitimate investigative purposes of the traffic stop have been completed. Michael Phelps appealed a criminal judgment entered after he conditionally pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver after the district court denied his motion to suppress evidence. Phelps argued the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence because the traffic stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion and the dog sniff unreasonably extended the traffic stop. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded: (1) the district court did not err in finding the officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop; and (2) the dog sniff conducted on Phelps' vehicle did not require independent reasonable suspicion because it occurred contemporaneously to the completion of duties related to the initial traffic stop. View "North Dakota v. Phelps" on Justia Law

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A district court's analysis of whether "corroborating circumstances" indicate the trustworthiness of the statement is a preliminary determination regarding the admissibility of the evidence. Precious Bailey appeals a criminal judgment entered after a jury found her guilty of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. Bailey argued the district court erred by excluding hearsay testimony after analyzing the credibility of the witness she wanted to testify on her behalf. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme court affirmed the district court. View "North Dakota v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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The odor of an alcoholic beverage, poor balance, and open containers of alcohol may permit an officer to reasonably formulate an opinion the body of a driver in a single-car crash contains alcohol. Matthew Marman appealed the district court's judgment affirming the Department of Transportation's suspension of his driving privileges for 180 days. Because Marman failed to rebut the prima facie evidence of the Report and Notice, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Marman v. Levi" on Justia Law

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Not all communications between law enforcement and citizens implicate the Fourth Amendment: an officer running to get ahead of a person, without any threatening or coercive conduct, does not constitute a show of authority escalating a casual encounter into a seizure; the presence of two officers, in and of itself, does not constitute a show of authority escalating a casual encounter into a seizure. Kevin Reilly appealed a criminal judgment entered after conditionally pleading guilty to having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Grand Forks Police Corporal Robert Buelow and Officer Daniel Essig received a call from dispatch of a possible drunk driver. The officers located the vehicle, parked with its headlights on, at the apartment building of the vehicle's registered owner. Buelow attempted to get his attention by saying, "Excuse me, sir," but Reilly kept walking towards the apartment door. Buelow ran ahead of Reilly to meet him on the sidewalk. Buelow did not know whether Reilly was intentionally ignoring him. Buelow took the license, and after identifying Reilly brought him to the squad car for field sobriety tests. Reilly was charged with having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Reilly reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss his case. Reilly argues the district court erred in denying his motion by ruling the stop was a casual encounter and did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Grand Forks v. Reilly" on Justia Law

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Christian Hall appealed a criminal judgment entered after he conditionally pleaded guilty following the district court's denial of his motion to suppress and motion to dismiss for violation of Hall's right to a speedy trial. Hall was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver after a search of his backpack revealed the presence of Oxycodone pills packaged in baggies. A four-factor balancing test is used to evaluate the validity of a speedy trial claim: length of the delay, reason for the delay, proper assertion of the right, and actual prejudice to the accused. A sniff by a drug detection dog is not a Fourth Amendment search. A brief detention of luggage for purposes of conducting a dog sniff is a limited intrusion that requires only reasonable suspicion. Whether an officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion is a fact-specific inquiry that is evaluated under an objective standard considering the totality of the circumstances. Whether probable cause exists to issue a search warrant is a question of law, and on appeal, the sufficiency of information before the magistrate is reviewed based on the totality of the circumstances. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded after review of the facts of this case that the district court did not err when it denied Hall's motion to dismiss for violation of Hall's speedy trial rights. The Court also concluded the district court did not err when it denied Hall's motion to suppress evidence. View "North Dakota v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Section 39-20-01, N.D.C.C., requires law enforcement officers to convey the implied-consent advisory in an objectively reasonable way calculated to be comprehensible to the driver. Miguel Ayala appealed a judgment entered on his conditional plea of guilty to driving under the influence. He reserved his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress his blood test result, arguing that law enforcement failed to "inform" him as required under the implied-consent law. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Ayala" on Justia Law