April 2022

4th Circuit: District Court Erred When
It Denied Defendant’s Motion to
Suppress Evidence Discovered
During Terry Stop

Defendant entered a conditional plea to gun charges after the district court denied his motion to suppress. The Fourth Circuit reversed holding that the Terry exception does not cover a warrantless search of a bag recently possessed by a person who was, by the time the bag was opened, handcuffed and face-down on the ground. Even if the officers had reasonable suspicion that a single-strap bag that defendant had worn across his body contained a weapon, or that the suspect may have discharged a firearm earlier in the evening, such suspicion did not justify the protective search of the bag during the Terry stop. United States v. Buster, ___ F.4th___ (CA 4, 02-22-2022, WL 518996).

Idaho: Trial Court Erred When It
Gave Improper Malice Instruction
During Jury Deliberations

Defendant was convicted by jury of second-degree murder at a trial where he argued self-defense. The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it gave the jury, during deliberations, an additional, improper malice instruction that would make it possible to convict a defendant for “intentionally” pulling the trigger, as defendant did, without proving that the defendant acted with the mental intent to kill the victim as the instruction drew from the definition of general malice, not the malice required for a specific intent crime. Idaho v. McDermott, ___ P.3d ___ (03-01-2022, WL 599073).

Utah: Trial Court Erred When It Denied
Motion to Suppress Applying the
Community Caretaking Exception

Defendant pled guilty to OUIL after his motion to suppress was denied. After being notified that someone was asleep in their car in the McDonald’s parking lot, the police parked their vehicle behind defendant’s and had him do sobriety tests. The district court found that Smith’s seizure without a warrant was justified by the community caretaking doctrine. The Utah Supreme Court reversed holding that the State failed to show that the facts alleged supported application of the community caretaking exception where the facts indicated that the police’s seizure of defendant was incommensurate with either defendant’s minimal need for assistance or the low risk to the community of an impaired driver on the road. State v. Smith, ___ P.3d ___ (03-01-2022, WL 601927).