Wednesday, December 02, 2009

People v. Dotson (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 30, 2009)

The police are hanging out at the Thunder Valley Casino at 4:00 a.m. looking to pick up whomever they can. They stop a vehicle because it doesn't have any license plates, but don't bother to look in the window to see if there was a red temporary sticker. (Defendant later testified that, yeah, there totally was a temporary tag there, which seems plausible.) Since the only basis for the stop was the alleged Vehicle Code violation, defendant argues the evidence from the stop has to be suppressed.

The trial court disagrees, Dotson is convicted, and appeals. On appeal, that Attorney General expressly agrees with the defendant and concedes that the vehicle stop was impermissible, and that the exclusionary rule thus required suppression.

But even though both sides agree, the Court of Appeal refuses to accept the concession. It holds that even though there's a California Supreme Court case seemingly on point granting the motion to suppress, that case is distinguishable because there the officer actually saw the temporary tag, whereas here the officer didn't bother to look. And on that basis the Court of Appeal refuses to suppress the evidence and affirms the convictions.

So the Court of Appeal says the Attorney General's Office is being way too soft on crime and pro-exclusionary rule. Who'da thunk?