Evidence Suppressed in Drug Case involving Canine.

Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton recently suppressed evidence in a case involving an Idaho State Police trooper who pulled over the Defendant for failing to signal for five seconds before a lane change.  After the stop, the Trooper was convinced that the driver was nervous and called for a drug dog to investigate.  The dog ultimately alerted on the vehicle.  A search of the vehicle revealed marijuana in greater than misdemeanor amounts, approximately four ounces (three ounces is the limit for felonies in Idaho).  After a suppression hearing, Judge Norton ruled that the marijuana evidence and the statements made by the Defendant should be suppressed.  The Judge ruled that nervousness was not sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify expanding a traffic stop into a drug investigation.  The Court cited State v. Gibson, 141 Idaho 277, 286 (Ct. App. 2005) for the proposition that nervousness is of little significance in connection with a determination of reasonable suspicion.  Since there was a lack of reasonable suspicion to extend the investigation into a drug investigation, the Court ruled that the evidence, including the marijuana that was found during the search, should be suppressed.  Moreover, the Court also ruled that the statements made by the Defendant were tainted by the suppressed marijuana evidence and were fruit of the “poisonous tree.”  Therefore, those statements should be suppressed.  Also, the Defendant had not received Miranda warnings prior to talking to the police even though he was detained.

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