Archive | Motion to suppress

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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.…

State v. Kasparek

State v. Kasparek, 2016 MT 163 (July 12, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Kasparek’s motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant, and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Kasparek’s motion to suppress statements he made while in custody.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) no.


Facts: In August 2013, Deputy Sheriff Stokes responded to a report of a burglary at a residence in Browning. The owner, Judy Como, had been at work from 7 pm-7 am, and told the officer her house had been burglarized while she was gone. Several items were missing, including her estranged husband Spencer Atchley’s drug test results. The front door showed signs of forced entry.…

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.…

State v. Crawford

State v. Crawford, 2016 MT 96 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Crawford’s motion to suppress; (2) whether Crawford received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) whether the district court improperly denied Crawford’s third discovery request; (4) whether the district court erred by denying Crawford’s post-trial motion to dismiss; and (5) whether the district court adequately addressed Crawford’s complaints about his assigned counsel.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) yes.


Facts: Crawford was released on parole in December 2010 after incarceration at Montana State Prison for multiple drug-related felony convictions. As a condition of his parole, he was required to obtain written permission from his parole officer before traveling outside of Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Jefferson or Deer Lodge counties.…

State v. Kant

State v. Kant, 2016 MT 42 (Feb. 23, 2016) (Cotter, J., for the majority; Shea, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Kant’s motion to suppress and dismiss.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Bradley Kant and his wife, Crystal, had registered caregiver’s licenses under the Montana Marijuana Act allowing them to grow and distribute marijuana in accordance with the law. Upon expiration of their licenses they did not renew them, but continued growing and distributing marijuana.…

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.…

State v. Hala

State v. Hala, 2015 MT 300 (Oct. 20, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether a blood test drawn more than eight hours after the act of driving was taken within a reasonable time under the circumstances; and (2) whether the district court erred by holding certain evidence was admissible under the inevitable discovery rule when the state made that argument for the first time at the suppression hearing.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) the Court declines to reach this issue after affirming on the first issue.


Facts: Hala’s truck drifted off the road and crashed early one morning in November 2013. Because he was injured and could not call for assistance, the accident went unreported until about 5 am.…

State v. Poitras

State v. Poitras, 2015 MT 287 (Oct. 6, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion by concluding sufficient foundation existed to admit the result of Poitras’s breath test.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Casey Poitras was arrested for DUI in May 2012, and submitted to a breath test on an Intoxilyzer 8000, which registered a BAC of .149%. Poitras moved to exclude the results, arguing the county’s two senior operators of the Intoxilyzer were not properly recertified. The state put in evidence that both operators had successfully competed their recertification exams in January 2012 and were issued new permits, but did not provide evidence of prior examinations. Poitras argued this evidence was necessary to show they were properly recertified in accordance with the rules.…

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.…