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State v. Wilkie

Supreme Court of North Dakota

June 7, 2017

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Todd Albert Wilkie, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Jon J. Jensen, Judge.

          Ashley Hinds (argued), third-year law student, under the Rule on Limited Practice of Law by Law Students, Carmell F. Mattison (appeared), Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

          David N. Ogren, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          Crothers, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Todd Wilkie appeals a criminal judgment after conditionally pleading guilty to reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer and driving under suspension, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss the case. Wilkie argues the district court erred in determining the University of North Dakota police officer had jurisdiction to initiate a traffic stop. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In August 2016 UND police officer Anthony Thiry was traveling east on Gateway Drive when he saw a vehicle traveling east on the 3000 block of Gateway Drive at a fast rate of speed and exhibiting erratic driving behavior. Officer Thiry checked the vehicle's license plate and discovered the owner, Wilkie, had a suspended drivers license. The vehicle driver matched Wilkie's description. According to Officer Thiry, he activated his overhead lights attempting to stop Wilkie before he entered the intersection of Gateway Drive and North Columbia Road.

         [¶ 3] According to Officer Thiry the vehicle continued traveling eastbound through the intersection, turned sharply into the parking lot of a business, ran a stop sign and accelerated to about 76 miles per hour. The vehicle eventually was disabled after hitting a median on Washington Street. Wilkie fled by foot and was apprehended by law enforcement. Wilkie was charged with reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under suspension.

         [¶ 4] Wilkie filed a motion to suppress evidence and dismiss the case, arguing Officer Thiry lacked jurisdiction to stop him. After a hearing the district court entered an order finding Officer Thiry was within the UND police department's jurisdiction and had official capacity and power to arrest Wilkie because UND owns the property encompassing the eastbound lane of Gateway Drive. The district court further determined Officer Thiry was in hot pursuit of Wilkie when Wilkie did not stop his vehicle within UND police department's jurisdiction. Wilkie conditionally pled guilty, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss the case. Wilkie appeals.

         II

         [¶ 5] Wilkie argues the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss his case. Wilkie contends Officer Thiry was outside of UND police department's jurisdiction when attempting to initiate a traffic stop. This Court's review of a district court's decision denying a motion to suppress is well established:

"[T]his Court defers to the district court's findings of fact and resolves conflicts in testimony in favor of affirmance. This Court will affirm a district court decision regarding a motion to suppress if there is sufficient competent evidence fairly capable of supporting the district court's findings, and the decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Questions of law are fully reviewable on appeal, and whether a finding of fact meets a legal standard is a question of law."

State v. Knox, 2016 ND 15, ¶ 6, 873 N.W.2d 664 (quoting State v. Bauer, 2015 ND 132, ¶ 4, 863 N.W.2d 534). III

         [¶ 6] As a general rule a police officer acting outside his jurisdiction "is without official capacity and without official power to arrest." Kroschel v. Levi, 2015 ND 185, ¶ 7, 866 N.W.2d 109 (quoting Johnson v. Dep't of Transp., 2004 ND 148, ΒΆ 10, 683 N.W.2d 886). Section 15-10-17(2), N.D.C.C., permits the state board of higher education to "[a]uthorize the employment of law enforcement officers having concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement officers to enforce laws and ...


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