CHEYENNE – A man who claimed his Fourth Amendment right was violated during a traffic stop had a Wyoming Supreme Court opinion issued in his case this week.
The Supreme Court affirmed Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe’s decision to deny the motion to suppress evidence that defendant Bryan Robinson said violated his Fourth Amendment right.
The court ultimately decided that the Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper who pulled Robinson over in a traffic stop that resulted in 10 pounds of marijuana being found in his car had reasonable suspicion to do so.
The court examined two issues in the opinion – if Robinson entered a proper conditional guilty plea, and if the district court made an error in denying the motion to suppress.
According to the court opinion:
During his change-of-plea hearing, Robinson entered into a plea agreement with a conditional guilty plea where he reserved the right to appeal his motion to suppress and therefore change his plea back to not guilty if the motion was approved on appeal.
However, the written plea agreement didn’t mention the conditional guilty plea. But the court transcript does have a record of the court, prosecution and defense coming to an agreement on the conditional plea. The prosecutor also said they would revise the plea agreement to include the conditional plea, though that was never done.
The state challenged the appeal because this conditional plea was never made in writing. The Supreme Court ruled that a written record, while encouraged, isn’t necessary because there is a clear record of the conditional plea in the court transcript.
The Supreme Court also said it has a history of recognizing records that aren’t always made in writing, and cited case law that supports that principal.
Once the Supreme Court ruled that it can review Robinson’s appeal, it examined two factors in Robinson’s traffic stop: if the trooper had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop, and if the trooper improperly prolonged the stop for a drug K9 search.
Robinson also asked the Supreme Court to consider if the trooper’s pursuit of him on Interstate 80 violated his Fourth Amendment rights. But since Robinson didn’t ask the district court to do so, the Supreme Court refused.
The trooper pulled Robinson over for following behind a semitruck too closely. The trooper used the two-second rule to determine if Robinson was following too closely, and Robinson failed the test.
The two-second rule is when a driver has to stay far enough away from another vehicle so at least two seconds pass between the times the vehicles pass a fixed point. The Supreme Court determined that the use of the two-second rule was a proper way for the trooper to determine if Robinson was following the truck too closely and initiate a traffic stop.
The court also found it was proper when the trooper requested a drug K9 to search Robinson’s car. When the trooper was talking to Robinson, he gave the trooper inconsistent travel plans and lied about his criminal history.