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State v. Brown

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 1, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
MELVIN BROWN

          Session: October 7, 2014

          Remanded by the Supreme Court on November 22, 2016

         Interlocutory Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-00735 W. Mark Ward, Judge

         The Defendant, Melvin Brown, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for driving under the influence ("DUI"); DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .20% or more; violation of the implied consent law; reckless driving; and driving on a revoked, suspended, or cancelled license. The trial court granted the Defendant's motion to suppress the results of his blood test on the basis that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406 was unconstitutional[1] and that there were no exigent circumstances that prevented the officers from obtaining a warrant. Thereafter, the State sought and was granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal, contending that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406 was constitutional, that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood draw, and that the warrantless blood draw was permissible pursuant to the implied consent law. Upon review, we reversed the portion of the trial court's judgment declaring Code section 55-10-406(f)(1) unconstitutional but affirmed the trial court's suppression of the results of the warrantless blood draw because no exception to the warrant requirement existed. State v. Melvin Brown, No. W2014-00162-CCA-R9-CD, 2015 WL 1951870 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 30, 2015), perm. app. granted and remanded, No. W2014-00162-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. Nov. 22, 2016) (order). On November 22, 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted the State's application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court's opinion in State v. Reynolds, 504 S.W.3d 283 (Tenn. 2016).[2] State v. Melvin Brown, No. W2014-00162-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. Nov. 22, 2016) (order). Upon reconsideration, we conclude that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule adopted in Reynolds applies to this case and that suppression of the Defendant's test results was not required. Therefore, the trial court's judgment suppressing the test results of the warrantless blood draw is reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 9 Interlocutory Appeal; Judgment of the Criminal Court Reversed and Remanded

          Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Michael McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellant, State of Tennessee.

          Claiborne H. Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal), and Varonica R. Cooper, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the Appellee, Melvin Brown.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION ON REMAND

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE

         This case concerns a December 6, 2011 car accident involving injuries to a third party that occurred in Memphis, Tennessee. The Defendant, who caused the accident, refused the officer's request to submit to a blood test to determine his blood alcohol concentration, and his blood was taken, without a warrant and over his objections, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(1) (Supp. 2011).

         The Defendant subsequently filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood test, contending that no exigent circumstances justified the warrantless search and that Code section 55-10-406(f) was unconstitutional because it allowed officers to conduct warrantless searches without a valid exception to the warrant requirement. The State filed a response, arguing that consent to the search was not required because the Defendant had given implied consent to the mandatory blood draw, pursuant to the implied consent law, at the time he received his Tennessee driver's license. The State also asserted that because the officers' investigation of the accident prevented them from having time to secure a search warrant, exigent circumstances existed, making the search permissible under Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141 (2013).

         At the suppression hearing, Officer Christopher Draper of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) testified that he responded to the scene of a three-car accident on December 6, 2011, around 9:00 p.m. The Defendant was suspected of DUI, and Officer Draper sat with the Defendant for approximately thirty minutes until certified DUI Officer Casey Kirby arrived on the scene. Officer Draper assisted Officer Kirby with some of the paperwork for the DUI investigation, including the completion of the "Standard Field Sobriety Form." Officer Draper noted in his report that the Defendant had obvious signs of alcohol impairment, including a strong odor of alcohol, watery eyes, and slurred speech. He recalled that the accident occurred in a "[v]ery busy intersection" and required vehicles to be towed.

         On cross-examination, Officer Draper testified that there were two other officers at the scene investigating the accident while he and Officer Kirby investigated the Defendant for DUI. Officer Draper agreed that the Defendant had not been injured in the accident or transported to the hospital and that this DUI stop was "pretty much standard routine." He estimated that the Defendant remained at the scene for an hour and a half before being transported to the police station.

         Officer Casey Kirby, a trained DUI officer with the MPD DUI Unit, testified that he responded to the scene after officers there requested a DUI officer. Upon his arrival, Officer Kirby and another officer took the Defendant to a parking lot adjacent to the accident. He observed that the Defendant had a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, and a slow reaction time. He recalled that the Defendant was swaying and staggering, but because the Defendant complained of leg pain, Officer Kirby did not ask the Defendant to perform a walk and turn test or one leg stand test. Officer Kirby advised the Defendant of the implied consent law and requested that he submit to a breath test, but the Defendant refused. Because a third party had been injured in the accident, Officer Kirby determined that the Defendant was subject to a mandatory blood draw pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(1). He explained, "Since [the Defendant] was involved in an accident where there w[ere] injuries to a third party . . . the State law at the time advised me that I'm able to go ahead and take . . . a mandatory blood draw if ...


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