Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Session September 16, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sevier County No. 11-AP-001-III Rex Henry Ogle, Judge.
Bryce W. McKenzie (at plea hearing and on appeal); and Bryan E. Delius (at motions hearing and on appeal), Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Justin Andrew Jones.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Gregory C. Eshbaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Roger A. Page, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROGER A. PAGE, JUDGE
Appellant was charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant ("DUI"), a Class A misdemeanor. Appellant was found guilty of the offense after a trial in general sessions court, but he appealed his conviction to the circuit court. Appellant filed a motion to suppress all evidence resulting from his traffic stop, claiming that the stop was illegal. The trial court denied appellant's motion, and appellant pleaded guilty, reserving the following certified question of law for appeal:
Whether the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's Motion to Suppress when legally insufficient reasonable suspicion supported the traffic stop of the Defendant because the Officer never observed any violation of the rules of the road and only witnessed the Defendant slow his vehicle and then stop on the inside lane of traffic on Chapman Highway.
I. Facts from the Motion to Suppress Hearing
The testimony at the motion to suppress hearing showed that on August 20, 2010, Turhan Thomas, a deputy sheriff with the Sevier County Sheriff's Office, noticed a silver BMW "pull in a little fast" at E-Z Stop gas station on Chapman Highway at 3:00 a.m. and saw appellant get out of the car, look at the car's tires, and then reenter the car. Appellant then "squalled the tires a little bit" and pulled back out onto Chapman Highway at a "high rate of speed." Deputy Thomas then entered his car and followed appellant. After cresting a hill, the officer saw appellant slow and stop his car in the left lane of a four-lane highway in a curve. Deputy Thomas sat in his car for approximately four to five seconds after appellant's car had stopped moving before activating his emergency lights. Appellant pulled onto the side of the roadway. Deputy Thomas then smelled the odor of alcohol on appellant's person. Appellant performed "very poorly" on his field sobriety tests, and Deputy Thomas arrested appellant for driving under the influence.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court cited two due care statutes, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 55-8-136 and -158, and the community caretaker doctrine to determine that the stop was permissible and denied appellant's motion to suppress.
Appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress because the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop appellant and because the officer was acting outside of his community caretaking function when he stopped appellant. The State argues that the trial court properly denied appellant's motion to suppress.
Rule 3(b)(2) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure permits a defendant to plead guilty while reserving the right to appeal a certified question of law that is dispositive of the case. In doing so, a defendant must also comply with the requirements of Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the ...