Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State of Kansas v. Robert Dennis

May 3, 2013


Appeal from Butler District Court; DAVID A. RICKE, judge.


SYLLABUS BY THE COURT 1. On a motion to suppress evidence, this court reviews the factual findings underlying the trial court's suppression decision using a substantial competent evidence standard and the legal conclusions drawn from those factual findings using a de novo standard. This court does not reweigh evidence. 2. Warrantless searches are considered unreasonable and invalid unless they fall within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. It is the State's burden to demonstrate a warrantless search was lawful. 3. Neither the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution nor § 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the use of evidence obtained in violation of their respective protections. Instead, the exclusionary rule is a judicially created remedy to prevent the use of unconstitutionally obtained evidence in a criminal case.

4. The exclusionary rule operates to protect Fourth Amendment rights generally through its deterrent effect upon law enforcement, rather than serving as a personal constitutional right of the victim of an illegal search and seizure. It does not apply to evidence obtained by police who acted in objectively reasonable reliance on K.S.A. 22-2501(c) prior to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 129 S. Ct. 1710, 173 L. Ed. 2d 485 (2009). 5. When it was effective, K.S.A. 22-2501 governed searches incident to arrest and set forth the circumstances and purposes under which such searches could be conducted. An officer's subjective understanding or articulation of K.S.A. 22-2501 as the legal basis for a search incident to arrest is not determinative of whether there was objectively reasonable reliance on the statute.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Biles, J.

Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished

opinion filed February 4, 2011.

Judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing and remanding to the district court is reversed. Judgment of the district court is affirmed. Case is remanded to the Court of Appeals with directions.

The opinion of the court was delivered by BILES, J.

The State seeks review of a divided Court of Appeals decision suppressing drug evidence obtained during a vehicle search conducted incident to the driver's arrest. That search occurred prior to Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 129 S. Ct. 1710, 173 L. Ed. 2d. 485 (2009), and both parties agree Gant rendered the search illegal. But the State argues suppression is unnecessary and contrary to this court's decision in State v. Daniel, 291 Kan. 490, 242 P.3d 1186 (2010), cert. denied 131 S. Ct. 2114 (2011). In Daniel,we applied a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule for pre-Gant searches conducted under the then-existing authority of K.S.A. 22-2501(c) (search incident to arrest for evidence of a crime). The panel majority refused to apply Daniel, in part, because the officer did not testify that he relied on K.S.A. 22-2501(c) to conduct the search. State v. Dennis, No. 101,052, 2011 WL 425987, at *3 (Kan. App. 2011) (unpublished opinion). We granted review.

The panel majority erred when it found Daniel distinguishable. We hold that it was unnecessary for the officer to specifically articulate K.S.A. 22-2501 as authority for the search because application of a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule is not governed by a subjective inquiry. The question is whether an objectively reasonable officer could rely on K.S.A. 22-2501. We agree with the State that the good-faith exception applies. We reverse and remand this case to the Court of Appeals for resolution of the remaining issues unaddressed in the panel's decision.


On November 16, 2007, Officer Matthew Meckel was parked in his patrol car, watching an apartment complex he believed was associated with illegal drug use. While doing so, Meckel learned that a parked vehicle at the complex belonged to Robert Dennis, whose driver's license was suspended. Meckel later observed the vehicle leave the complex and stopped it for making an illegal turn at a nearby intersection. As the vehicle pulled over, Meckel saw Dennis making movements towards the center console. Dennis exited his vehicle, shut and locked the door behind him, and faced the officer in what Meckel described as an "aggressive" or "offensive" manner.

Meckel said he approached Dennis and patted him down for officer safety, during which Meckel saw what appeared to be an open beer bottle between the front seats of Dennis' car. Meckel testified he asked Dennis if there was an open container in the vehicle and Dennis replied, "'Yes.'" The officer arrested Dennis for transporting an open container, handcuffed him, and sat him down on a nearby curb. Meckel then searched the vehicle incident to the arrest.

The officer testified he observed "a Taco Tico or Taco Bell bag with suspicious items hanging out the top" on the floorboard behind the driver's seat while retrieving the beer bottle. One item in the bag was a stained or discolored rubber glove. Meckel said he looked inside and saw a peeled lithium battery, which he knew from his training to be associated with manufacturing methamphetamine. On the backseat, Meckel said he saw a camp stove and a microwave oven, as well as a funnel, some tubing, a glass jar with powder residue, and a number of plastic bags tied in knots. Meckel believed several of these items were used to manufacture methamphetamine. He then contacted his sergeant to assist with the search, which ultimately revealed additional drug paraphernalia and manufacturing equipment. Some items tested positive for methamphetamine. Dennis was charged with one count of manufacture of methamphetamine, one count of possession of ephedrine with intent to use as a precursor, one count of possession of methamphetamine, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture.

Before trial, Dennis moved to suppress the items found in his vehicle, challenging both the validity of the stop and the officer's vehicle search incident to his arrest. At the suppression hearing, Meckel testified he unlocked Dennis' vehicle to "search incident to arrest and to get the beer bottle."

The district court denied Dennis' suppression motion. It found the officer's testimony credible and the traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction had been committed. It further found the officer's initial pat-down was justified for officer safety reasons, and that once Meckel saw the open beer bottle inside the vehicle, which Dennis confirmed, there was probable cause to arrest Dennis. The court then found the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.