may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed July 8, 1997
St. Louis County District Court
File No. K494600135
John M. Stuart, Minnesota State Public Defender, Ann McCaughan, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue, S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
Appellant Eric Holmes challenges his conviction of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, arguing that the district court erroneously refused to suppress the evidence obtained after an allegedly illegal stop. We affirm.
On the morning of August 6, 1993, Sergeant Anderson and Officer Leino waited outside Mickey's Grill. The officers observed Holmes; Jones; Holmes's girlfriend, Terri Booth; and Chet Winklesky get into a silver Oldsmobile Omega that was owned by Booth. The officers followed the Omega while it was driven to a bank, a fast-food restaurant, and a liquor store. The officers then followed the Omega all the way to the Twin Cities. While in the Twin Cities, the officers eventually lost sight of the car.
Back in Duluth, Sergeant Anderson briefed Officer Christensen on the situation with Holmes, the cocaine, and the Omega. Officer Christensen then parked his vehicle on the interstate and waited for the Omega to return to Duluth. As the Omega pulled into Duluth's downtown, patrol officers stopped the Omega at the request of Officer Christensen. Officer Christensen approached the car and immediately smelled the odor of crack cocaine; he also saw in plain view a makeshift crack pipe. He ordered the four occupants out of the car, and each person was pat searched. Officer Christensen obtained consent from Booth to search the Omega and found cocaine, along with two crack pipes. All occupants of the Omega were taken to the police station. Altogether 9.8 grams of cocaine were found on Holmes, Jones, and Winklesky.
Holmes was charged with one count of second-degree conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime and one count of second-degree controlled substance crime. Holmes filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the officer's stop. The district court denied Holmes's motion to suppress and found that the stop was legal because the officers had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Following a jury trial, Holmes was convicted of second-degree conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime and acquitted of second-degree controlled substance crime. Holmes was sentenced to 48 months in prison. This appeal followed.
I. Suppression of the Evidence
Where the facts are not significantly in dispute, this court determines as a matter of law if the officer's actions amounted to a seizure and if the officer had an adequate basis for the seizure. Kranz v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 539 N.W.2d 420, 422 (Minn. App. 1995). "It is well settled that in accordance with the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution a police officer may not stop a vehicle without a reasonable basis for doing so." Marben v. State, Dept. of Public Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). A stop of a vehicle is lawful if the officer articulates a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity." State v. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1983) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). This suspicion need not be based on an officer's own observation of an individual, but may come from information passed on to the officer from citizen informants or other officers. Marben, 294 N.W.2d at 699; and State v. Cavegn, 294 N.W.2d 717, 721 (Minn. 1980).
Here, the investigatory stop of Holmes is legal because the officer had specific and articulable facts giving rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Duluth police officers were informed by a confidential and uncontestedly reliable informant that Holmes and an employee of Mickey's Grill were driving to the Twin Cities to purchase cocaine on August 6, 1993. Officers Anderson and Leino investigated the informant's information and found that Holmes was also an employee of Mickey's Grill. The officers, therefore, waited outside Mickey's Grill and observed Holmes, Jones, and others driving toward the Twin Cities. Additionally, the officers followed Holmes and his companions to the Twin Cities. Up to this point, the informant's information was completely confirmed by the officers' observations. The informant's information, corroborated by the officers' observations, gives rise to an objective basis for suspecting Holmes of criminal activity. Thus, the district court properly refused to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the officer's initial stop of Holmes.