BY THE COURT
district judge's legal ruling in favor of the defense on
a motion to suppress is infected with an obviously incorrect
assessment of the State's evidence that is equivalent to
an arbitrary disregard of a portion of that evidence, an
appellate court cannot be certain if the district judge, once
the error is pointed out, would arrive at the same or a
different conclusion. In such circumstances, the wisest
course for the appellate court is to reverse and then give
the district judge another chance to review the record and
explain himself or herself.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished
opinion filed December 21, 2018. Appeal from Reno District
Court; Trish Rose, judge. Judgment of the Court of Appeals
reversing the district court is affirmed. Judgment of the
district court is reversed and the case is remanded with
Natasha Esau, assistant district attorney, Keith Schroeder,
district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were
on the brief for appellant.
Shannon S. Crane, of Hutchinson, and Sam S. Kepfield, of
Hutchinson, were on the briefs for appellee.
case concerns reversal of a district judge's decision to
suppress evidence and appropriate instructions for her
further action on remand.
affirm the Court of Appeals majority's twin decisions to
reverse the district judge's ruling and remand the case,
but we would alter its instructions to match those suggested
in the dissent of Judge Thomas E. Malone. The district judge
should not be directed to deny the defendant's motion but
to reconsider it in light of a corrected understanding of the
evidence before her.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
County Sheriff's Deputy Mikel Bohringer stopped defendant
Christopher Shane Douglas for speeding. As Douglas leaned
over to look inside the glove compartment, Bohringer saw a
capsule he suspected of containing methamphetamine sticking
out of Douglas' pocket.
called for backup after returning to his vehicle. Once backup
arrived, he ordered Douglas out of the truck and seized the
capsule from the driver's seat, where Bohringer had seen
it fall on Douglas' exit. Field testing revealed the
capsule contained methamphetamine. Searches of Douglas and
the truck followed, and the search of Douglas' person
apparently uncovered additional contraband. Douglas was
arrested and charged with possession of a controlled
substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing Bohringer
violated his federal and state constitutional rights.
hearing on the motion, Bohringer testified that, using his
flashlight, he had "observed a clear capsule with a
crystalized substance inside of it, just hanging out of
[Douglas'] left front [pants] pocket" for about five
seconds and suspected it contained methamphetamine.
district court judge agreed with Douglas that his rights had
been violated because law enforcement extended the traffic
stop longer than necessary to issue a speeding ticket without
reasonable and articulable suspicion, and ...