Criminal (Search & Seizure): MONIN V. COM. (COA 6/30/2006)

CRIMINAL:  Search and seizure; roadblock; checkpoint detention
DATE RENDERED:  6/30/2006

Trooper Cornett arrested Monin on the basis of a checkpoint stop rather than articulating a basis for a Terry v. Ohio stop based on his individualized, reasonable suspicion that Monin was driving under the influence.  In such a case, the KSP must be able to state a constitutionally permissible purpose for its decision to conduct a vehicle checkpoint at a particular place and time.

Trooper Cornett could not give adequate answers to the Commonwealth’s questions (both during the suppression hearing and at trial) regarding prior supervisory approval to conduct the checkpoint at that place and time. There was obviously no concerted planning to maintain the checkpoint since it was immediately abandoned when Monin was arrested.

In light of the conflicting and incomplete evidence, COA concluded that this vehicle checkpoint was not properly conducted so as to limit the troopers’ discretion at the scene or to maximize public safety in any way. It appears to have been an isolated stop later characterized as a checkpoint detention.

The Commonwealth has failed to show how this stop otherwise complied with any exemption to a warrant requirement based on an individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.  Absent such an exception, the search and seizure must fail under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution.

COA held that the checkpoint established by Trooper Cornett was improper and, therefore, unconstitutional, rendering inadmissible any evidence seized pursuant to the stop of Monin’s vehicle. The evidence should have been suppressed.

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