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State v. Weakland

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

November 28, 2017

The State of Arizona, Appellee,
Courtney Noelle Weakland, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County No. CR20153118001 The Honorable Casey F. McGinley, Judge Pro Tempore

          Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel, Phoenix By Mariette S. Ambri, Assistant Attorney General, Tucson Counsel for Appellee.

          Dean Brault, Pima County Legal Defender By Robb P. Holmes, Assistant Legal Defender, Tucson Counsel for Appellant.

          Judge Kelly [1] authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Vásquez concurred and Chief Judge Eckerstrom dissented.


          KELLY, Judge.

         ¶1 Courtney Weakland appeals from her convictions for aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) while impaired to the slightest degree and aggravated driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. She contends the trial court should have suppressed the results of blood-alcohol testing because police officers obtained her blood sample without a warrant and without valid consent. Although we agree the sample was unlawfully obtained, we conclude the officers acted in good faith, and exclusion of the evidence therefore was not required.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         ¶2 "In reviewing the denial of a defendant's motion to suppress, we consider only 'evidence presented at the suppression hearing and view the facts in the light most favorable to sustaining the trial court's ruling.'" State v. Valenzuela, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 3 (2016) (Valenzuela II), quoting State v. Hausner, 230 Ariz. 60, ¶ 23 (2012). In February 2015, an Oro Valley police officer arrested Weakland for DUI, handcuffed her, put her in the back seat of his patrol car, and read her an "admin per se" form, pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-1321, which provided that Arizona law "require[d]" her to complete certain tests to determine her blood-alcohol concentration. Weakland submitted to blood testing.

         ¶3 Weakland was indicted on one count of aggravated DUI while impaired to the slightest degree and one count of aggravated DUI with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or more. Before trial, she moved to suppress all of the evidence acquired through the warrantless search and seizure of her blood, arguing the requirement language in the admin per se admonition coerced her consent. The court summarily denied her motion.

         ¶4 Following conviction on both counts, the trial court sentenced Weakland to concurrent four-month prison terms followed by concurrent five-year probationary terms. She timely appealed, and we have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. §§ 13-4031 and 13-4033.


         ¶5 On appeal, Weakland argues the blood test results should have been suppressed "because the police obtained her blood sample without a warrant and without valid consent." And she maintains the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule, recognized by our supreme court in Valenzuela II, 239 Ariz. 371, ¶¶ 31-35, does not apply. "We review the denial of a motion to suppress evidence for abuse of discretion, considering the facts in the light most favorable to sustaining the ruling." Id. ¶ 9. An error of law may constitute such an abuse. Id. We review de novo the applicability of the good-faith exception. State v. Havatone, 241 Ariz. 506, ¶ 11 (2017).

         ¶6 The state implicitly concedes that Weakland's consent for the warrantless blood draw was involuntary, and therefore invalid, pursuant to Valenzuela II, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 33. Indeed, the record shows the officer's interaction with Weakland did not comply with the standards set forth in that decision, which directs officers to inform suspects of the provisions of the admin per se statute "in a way that does not coerce consent by stating or implying that officers have lawful authority, without a warrant, to compel samples of blood, breath, or other bodily substances." Id. ¶ 28. The state has not asserted any other basis to find the search permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Thus, the sole issue on appeal concerns whether the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies.

         ¶7 "The exclusionary rule, which allows suppression of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, is a prudential doctrine invoked to deter future violations." Id. ¶ 31. Because it functions solely for that purpose, it is unwarranted if it "fails to yield 'appreciable deterrence.'" Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 236-37 (2011), quoting United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 454 (1976). Furthermore, while "deterrent value is a 'necessary condition for exclusion, ' . . . it is not 'a sufficient' one." Id. at 237, quoting Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 596 (2006). "[T]he deterrence benefits of suppression must [also] outweigh its heavy costs." Id.

         ¶8 "Therefore, when law enforcement officers 'act with an objectively reasonable good-faith belief that their conduct is lawful, ' deterrence is unnecessary and the exclusionary rule does not apply." Valenzuela II, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 31, quoting Davis, 564 U.S. at 238. In such cases, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies. Davis, 564 U.S. at 238-40. But the exception will not apply when "officers exhibit deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent disregard for Fourth Amendment rights, " nor when circumstances show "recurring or systemic negligence." Havatone, 241 Ariz. 506, ¶ 21, quoting Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 144 (2009). And "[t]he State bears the burden of proving the good-faith exception applies." Id. ¶ 19.

         ¶9 Weakland argues first that the state failed to raise the good- faith exception in the trial court, and has therefore waived any argument that it should apply. But "[w]e are required to affirm a trial court's ruling if legally correct for any reason and, in doing so, we may address the state's arguments to uphold the court's ruling even if those arguments otherwise could be deemed waived by the state's failure to argue them below."[2] State v. Boteo-Flores, 230 Ariz. 551, ¶ 7 (App. 2012).

         ¶10 Weakland next contends the good-faith exception should not apply because "the state continued to disregard Arizona case law that established the admin per se warning misstates the law." Citing Carrillo v. Houser, 224 Ariz. 463 (2010), she contends our courts had "established that the admin per se warning misstated the law" and that allowing the state to rely on the exception in view of that uncertainty in the law would "incentivize rather than deter unlawful police behavior."

         ¶11 In Valenzuela II, however, our supreme court determined that the good-faith exception applied in circumstances nearly identical to those before us here. The court determined that, as in this case, a DUI suspect's consent to a warrantless blood draw had been coerced by the officer's reading of the admin per se admonition. Valenzuela II, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 33. The court expressly rejected the argument Weakland makes as to Carrillo, explaining that case had held an arrestee must "unequivocally manifest assent to the testing by words or conduct" before an officer could proceed. Valenzuela II, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 34, quoting Carrillo, 224 Ariz. 463, ¶ 19. The court had not, it stated, "suggested that the admonition . . . was coercive." Id. Furthermore, the court expanded, it had not "ever questioned or overruled" cases concluding that Arizona's consent law required suspects to submit to blood testing, as stated in the admonition. Id. And, it pointed out that "our courts have continued to approve the admonition." Id., citing State v. Valenzuela, 237 Ariz. 307, ¶ 24 (App. 2015) (Valenzuela I), vacated, 239 Ariz. 299, ¶ 36, and State v. Oliver, No. 2 CA-CR 2014-0359, ¶¶ 23-25 (Ariz. App. Aug. 18, 2015) (mem. decision). Our supreme court having rejected this argument, we are bound to do so as well. See State v. Stanley, 217 Ariz. 253, ¶ 28 (App. 2007).

         ¶12 In her reply brief, however, Weakland also asserts that our supreme court's decision in State v. Butler, 232 Ariz. 84 (2013), which was issued between the arrest at issue in Valenzuela II and Weakland's arrest, set forth "unequivocally . . . that notwithstanding the implied consent law, the validity of the consent must be determined solely upon the Fourth Amendment" and therefore "clarified" that the admonition was coercive. We disagree.

         ¶13 In Butler, our supreme court addressed "whether the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that a juvenile arrestee's consent be voluntary to allow a warrantless blood draw." Id. ¶ 1. In that case, sixteen-year-old Tyler drove his car to school after smoking marijuana. Id. ¶¶ 2-3. The investigating officer read him the implied consent admonition, and he agreed to a blood draw, which he later challenged on the ground that his consent had been involuntary and that he lacked legal capacity to consent. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. The court acknowledged that, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141 (2013), a compelled blood draw is a search. Butler, 232 Ariz. 84, ¶ 10. But it noted that voluntary consent can allow a warrantless search. Id. ¶ 13. The court further noted that consent pursuant to § 28-1321 "must be express, " Butler, 232 Ariz. 84, ¶ 16, and that the statute "does not always authorize warrantless testing of arrestees, " as some may "refuse by declining to expressly agree to take the test, " in which case the statute requires a warrant, id. ¶ 17, quoting Carrillo, 224 Ariz. 463, ¶ 10.

         ¶14 The court then concluded Tyler's consent had not been voluntary based on the totality of the circumstances, including his age, his demeanor, his having been placed in handcuffs, the length of his detention, and the absence of his parents. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. The court also noted that a deputy had "read the implied consent admonition to Tyler, once verbatim and once in what the deputy termed 'plain English, ' concluding with the statement, 'You are, therefore, required to submit to the specified tests.'" Id. ΒΆ 20. The court did not address whether the language of the admonition was coercive, did not separately or clearly address its effect, and did not expressly raise a question as to its validity. Rather, it discussed the voluntariness of Tyler's consent ...

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