Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Colorado Supreme Court People v. Haley 01SA148, 01SA149, 01SA150

Decided 11-27-01.

   Officer Miller was working drug interdiction on I-70.  He saw a car following a truck too closely, and made a traffic stop.  The car had three occupants, Haley was the driver.  During the stop, Officer Miller separated Haley from the passengers, noted that they were all acting nervous (shaking hands, licking lips, etc), and that Haley said they had rented the car to drive home (Kansas City) after flying to California for a week but the passengers didn't seem to know what their destination was.  He decided not to issue a traffic ticket, and told Haley that he was free to go.  Immediately after telling him he was free to go, he asked for consent to search the car for drugs with a K9.  Haley gave consent to search the luggage, but not the car.

   Haley removed the luggage from the car, and put it a few feet away.  Miller ran his dog on the luggage, and the dog didn't alert.  Miller ran his dog on the car (Haley protested this and shouted at Miller).  The dog alerted on the car, but then moved to protect Miller from Haley.  Miller put the dog back in the patrol car, then detained everyone for another ten minutes until other officers arrived.  When two more officers arrived, they searched everybody.  Haley and one of the other occupants resisted, there was a foot chase and a failed attempt to ditch the drugs, and eventually all three occupants of Haley's car were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses.  The trial court suppressed the evidence against them, and the prosecution appealed.

   The Colorado Supreme Court held that there was no reasonable suspicion to justify the k9 sniff or to justify prolonging the traffic stop.  Also, Haley's refusal to consent to a search of the car could not be used to support reasonable suspicion.  The prosecution argued that a dog sniff of luggage and a vehicle in a public place did not constitute a search, but the court ruled that Haley, his luggage, and his car were only in a public place because they were being unlawfully detained by Ofc. Miller.  Accordingly, the drugs were suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree.