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State v. Carlton

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 21, 2013

State of Kansas, Appellant,
v.
Frederick W. Carlton, Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. 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.

2. 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 protections. Instead, the judicially created exclusionary rule prevents the use of unconstitutionally obtained evidence in some circumstances.

3. 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).

4. When it was effective, K.S.A. 22-2501 set forth the permissible circumstances, purposes, and scope for a search incident to arrest.

Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion filed July 9, 2010. Appeal from Butler District Court; Michael E. Ward, judge. Opinion filed June 21, 2013. Judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the district court is affirmed.

Joseph M. Penny and James R. Watts, assistant county attorneys, Steve Six, former attorney general, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the briefs for appellant.

Michael P. Whalen, of Law Office of Michael P. Whalen, of Wichita, was on the briefs for appellee.

OPINION

Biles, J.

Frederick W. Carlton seeks review of a divided Court of Appeals decision. The panel reversed the district court's order suppressing drug evidence obtained during a vehicle search conducted incident to Carlton's arrest following a traffic stop. The panel majority acknowledged the vehicle search was later invalidated by Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009), but held that the drug evidence should not be suppressed because at the time Carlton's vehicle was searched, existing caselaw and K.S.A. 22-2501(c) permitted a search incident to arrest to discover evidence of a crime. State v. Carlton, No. 103, 086, 2010 WL 2817048, at *2 (Kan. App. 2010) (unpublished opinion). We affirm the Court of Appeals judgment that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies and suppression is unnecessary. Our holding is based on two recent decisions in State v. Dennis, 297 Kan. __, 300 P.3d 81 (2013), and State v. Daniel, 291 Kan. 490, 242 P.3d 1186 (2010), cert. denied 131 S.Ct. 2114 (2011).

Factual and Procedural Background

On June 18, 2008, a police officer observed Carlton driving a pickup truck with expired tags. The officer stopped the vehicle and learned Carlton's driving privileges were revoked. The officer arrested Carlton on that basis. Once Carlton was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, the officer searched Carlton's truck incident to the arrest and discovered methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

Carlton filed a motion to suppress, arguing the evidence found after the traffic stop was obtained from an illegal search. The district court denied the motion. But a little more than 2 months later, the United States Supreme Court decided Gant, which prohibited police from conducting warrantless vehicle searches incident to an occupant's arrest unless "the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest." 556 U.S. at 351. Following this decision, Carlton filed a second motion to suppress based on Gant.

The district court initially upheld its decision denying suppression based on the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule but reversed itself once Carlton sought reconsideration before trial. The State filed an interlocutory appeal on the district court's final decision to suppress the drug evidence. A divided Court of Appeals panel reversed the district court's suppression ruling and ...


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