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 Post subject: Cases to Know: Jones v. State of Delaware
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:14 pm
Posts: 1865
Location: Bear, Delaware
So, in posting these last two cases, I have to say that I've been having a fun time today -- I found out that my place of employ (a higher educational facility) has an Educational Subscription to LexisNexis... A massive online legal database used primarily by attorneys and law students... So I've been reading over a lot of Delaware cases.

I've come across a case that's very similar to Florida v. J.L. with regards to only using an anonymous 911 call to effect a Terry stop; granted, this case doesn't involve the defendant being in possession of a firearm; however, I've read another case that all but states that Article I § 20 makes open carry lawful.
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PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant appealed his indictments on drug trafficking under Del. Code Ann., tit. 16, § 4753A(a)(2)(a), possession with intent to deliver cocaine under Del. Code Ann., tit. 16, § 4751, possession of drug paraphernalia under Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 4771, and resisting arrest under Del. Code Ann., tit. 11, § 1257.

OVERVIEW: An officer, based on an anonymous 911 call about a "suspicious black male wearing a blue coat" in a particular vicinity, ordered defendant to stop and remove his hands from his pockets. When defendant did not respond, the officer grabbed defendant's hands, and defendant threw an object over the officer's head. After handcuffing defendant, the officer recovered the thrown object, cocaine. Defendant was indicted on drug offenses under Del. Code Ann., tit. 16, §§ 4753A(a)(2)(a), 4751, 4771; and Del. Code Ann., tit. 11, § 1257. The judgment against defendant was reversed on appeal because the court concluded that the evidence was invalidly seized from defendant. To stop and detain an individual pursuant to Del. Code Ann., tit. 11, § 1902; and Del. Const. art. I, § 6; a peace officer must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion. The information possessed by the officer did not rise to that level.

OUTCOME: Defendant's judgment and sentence was reversed because the court concluded that evidence was invalidly seized from defendant; the trial court erred as a matter of Delaware statutory and Delaware constitutional law in denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence.

Quote:
VEASEY, Chief Justice:

In this criminal appeal, we reverse the judgment and sentence of the Superior Court because evidence was invalidly seized from the defendant. The seizure resulted from an encounter with a police officer in which the officer, based only on an anonymous 911 call that there was a "suspicious black male wearing a blue coat" in a particular vicinity, ordered the defendant to stop and remove his hands from his pockets. As a result of this stop, cocaine was seized. To stop and detain an individual pursuant to the Delaware detention statute and the Delaware Constitution, a peace officer must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity. The information possessed by the officer in this case did not rise to that level. As a consequence, the search was invalid and the evidence inadmissible.


The Superior Court cited four factors as its bases for finding that Officer Echevarria possessed reasonable suspicion to stop Jones pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 1902: (1) 85 Karlyn Drive was in close proximity to 98 Karlyn Drive, the subject of the 911 complaint; (2) the events took place at night; (3) Garfield Park is a high crime and high drug area; and (4) Jones fit the general physical description provided in the 911 complaint.

Before analyzing those bases of reasonable suspicion, it is appropriate to review how courts have treated the probative value of anonymous tips. 65 The importance of that inquiry stems from the fact that the first and fourth factors applied by the Superior Court depend almost entirely on the information provided by the anonymous 911 complaint. The first basis for reasonable suspicion found by the Superior Court was that Patrolman Echevarria spotted Jones in close proximity to 98 Karlyn Drive, the area mentioned in the 911 complaint. The fourth basis was that Jones matched the general physical description provided by the 911 complainant. In applying these factors, the Superior Court concluded that the 911 complaint, which spoke merely of a "suspicious black male wearing a blue coat" in the vicinity of 98 Karlyn Drive, furnished reasonable and articulable suspicion. In our view, the Superior Court overvalued the 911 complaint as furnishing a credible basis for that conclusion.

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Rob/Wynder
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