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State v. Hendrickson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 11, 2019

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Dustin Tory Hendrickson, Defendant and Appellant

          Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Todd L. Cresap, Judge.

          Christopher W. Nelson, Assistant State's Attorney, Minot, ND, plaintiff and appellee.

          Dustin T. Hendrickson, Minot, ND, defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          MCEVERS, JUSTICE

         [¶1] Dustin Hendrickson appeals from a criminal judgment entered after he conditionally pled guilty to driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. Hendrickson argues the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress because officers did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative stop. We affirm.

         I

         [¶2] Hendrickson was charged with actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol while being accompanied by a minor under N.D.C.C. § 39-08-01.4, a class A misdemeanor. Hendrickson moved to suppress evidence and to dismiss the charges against him. He argued officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him based on information from a 911 call. Hendrickson claimed the 911 caller was a Taco Johns employee and the employee alleged he was in the restaurant's drive thru and appeared to be "beyond drunk." He alleged the caller said he was slurring his speech; his eyes were "on and off," "open and shut," and "rolling to the back of his head;" and she said, "To us he looks drunk, but I wouldn't know." He claimed the responding officers did not observe any suspicious behavior or note any signs of intoxication when they spoke to him. Hendrickson argued the caller's information was not sufficient by itself to establish reasonable suspicion that he was intoxicated because the information was vague and did not contain any objective indicia which would lead a reasonable person to suspect intoxication.

         [¶3] Neither Hendrickson nor the State requested an evidentiary hearing. The district court denied Hendrickson's motion based on the parties' briefs and the evidence submitted in support of the briefs, including a recording of the 911 call and video of the stop. The court found there was sufficient reasonable and articulable suspicion based on the information from the 911 call to justify the investigative stop.

         [¶4] The State entered into a plea agreement with Hendrickson, and an amended complaint was entered, charging Hendrickson with actual physical control of a motor vehicle, a class B misdemeanor. Hendrickson conditionally pled guilty to the amended charge, reserving the right to appeal the court's order denying his motion to suppress. A criminal judgment was entered.

         II

         [¶5] Because Hendrickson conditionally pled guilty reserving the right to appeal the district court's decision denying his motion to suppress, his appeal is limited to those issues he raised in the motion to suppress. See N.D.R.Crim.P. 11(a)(2) (stating a conditional guilty plea reserves the right to have an appellate court review an adverse determination of a specified pretrial motion); State v. Trevino, 2011 ND 232, ¶¶ 6-7, 807 N.W.2d 211 (stating issues not reserved by a conditional guilty plea are waived). Hendrickson argues the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress because the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative stop.

         [¶6] The standard for reviewing a court's decision on a motion to suppress is well established:

[W]e give deference to the district court's findings of fact and we resolve conflicts in testimony in favor of affirmance. We will not reverse a district court decision on a motion to suppress . . . if there is sufficient competent evidence capable of supporting the court's findings, and if 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. Broom, 2018 ND 135, ¶ 6, 911 N.W.2d 895 (quoting State v. Kaul, 2017 ND 56, ¶ 5, 891 N.W.2d 352). Whether there was reasonable suspicion to justify an investigative stop is a question of law, which is fully reviewable on appeal. Sta ...


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