State v. Mitchell
Case # A154686
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A154686.pdf
Defendant Mitchell was at the Rose Garden Transit Center when a TriMet fare inspector approached him and asked to see his fare. When Mitchell said he did not have fare, the inspector asked for his identification. Mitchell did not have any identification but gave his name and a date of birth. The inspector did not think the birthdate was correct because it would have made Mitchell 40 years old, and Mitchell appeared older than 40 years.
The inspector escorted Mitchell to the Police Officer who was on duty at the transit center. The Officer told Mitchell that if he did not give his actual name and date of birth, he would be charged with giving false information to a police officer. At that point, Mitchell gave his real and date of birth. He also told the officer that he had lied about his identity because he thought he had a warrant. With that correct information, the Officer discovered an outstanding warrant for Mitchell’s arrest. During a search incident to arrest, Police found methamphetamine on Mitchell. Mitchell moved to suppress the evidence. The trial court concluded that Mitchell was unlawfully seized but concluded that discovery of the arrest warrant was not fruit of the poisonous tree from the unlawful stop. The trial court denied Mitchell’s motion, and he now appeals.
The Court of Appeals applies a three-factor test to determine if the causal connection between the unlawful police conduct and the challenged evidence was sufficiently attenuated by the discovery of the outstanding warrant so as to purge the taint of the illegality. The three factors are (1) the temporal proximity between the unlawful police conduct and the discovery of the challenged evidence; (2) the presence of intervening circumstances; and (3) the purpose and flagrancy of the unlawful police conduct.
The Court of Appeals first concludes that temporal proximity weighs in favor of suppression because there was almost no temporal break between the unlawful seizure of defendant and the discovery of the challenged evidence. Next, the discovery of the arrest warrant was the direct consequence of the unlawful detention because the Officer would not have discovered the outstanding warrant if Mitchell had not been unlawfully detained. Because the Officer detained Mitchell to determine his identification and determine whether or not there was a warrant for his arrest, the second factor bears only some weight in favor of suppression. Finally, the unlawful seizure was not purposeful or flagrant misconduct. The Court of Appeals explains that when Mitchell admitted that he lied about his identity because he was fearful that he had a warrant for his arrest, it was understandable why the Officer would stray into a new investigation. Based on the balance of these factors, the Court of Appeals concludes that the trial court did not err in denying Mitchell’s motion to suppress.
However, the trial court did err when it conducted a bench trial without obtaining a written jury waiver from Mitchell. For that reason, the Court reverses and remands.