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People v. Mungo

April 13, 2010


Washtenaw Circuit Court LC No. 05-001221-FH.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zahra, J.



Before: WHITBECK, P.J., and TALBOT and ZAHRA, JJ.

The prosecutor appeals as of right the circuit court's order granting defendant's motion to suppress evidence and quash the information. Previously, this Court reversed the circuit court's order, holding that "a police officer may search a car incident to a passenger's arrest where before the search there was no probable cause to believe that the car contained contraband or that the driver and owner of the car had engaged in any unlawful activity." People v Mungo, 277 Mich App 577, 578; 747 NW2d 875 (2008). Following this Court's decision, defendant appealed to our Supreme Court, which held the application for leave to appeal in abeyance pending release of the United States Supreme Court decision in Arizona v Gant, 556 US ___; 129 S Ct 1710; 173 L Ed 2d 485 (2009). On April 21, 2009, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Gant, which held that a vehicle may not be searched "incident to a recent occupant's arrest after the arrestee has been secured and cannot access the interior of the vehicle." Id. at 1714. Consequently, our Supreme Court has vacated this Court's decision in Mungo and remanded for reconsideration in light of Gant. People v Mungo, 483 Mich 1091 (2009). On remand, we affirm the circuit court's order suppressing evidence and quashing the Information.


As stated in this Court's previous opinion:

Washtenaw County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Stuck lawfully initiated a traffic stop of a car driven by defendant. Mark Dixon was the sole passenger in the car. Upon request, defendant produced the vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Deputy Stuck also requested the occupants' driver's licenses and ran Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) checks on both Dixon and defendant. Deputy Stuck found that Dixon had two outstanding warrants issued for failing to appear in court to answer traffic-violation charges. Deputy Stuck arrested Dixon, asked his dispatcher to send another officer to assist him, and secured Dixon in the back of his squad car. Deputy Stuck directed defendant to step out of his car and conducted a pat-down search. Thereafter, Deputy Stuck searched defendant's car and found an unloaded gun in a case underneath the driver's seat and ammunition in the glove compartment. Deputy Stuck asked defendant to produce a permit to carry a concealed weapon. However, defendant produced only a permit to purchase a firearm. Defendant's LEIN check did not reveal that he had been issued a concealed-weapons permit. Deputy Stuck arrested defendant for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon.

In the circuit court, defendant moved to quash the information and suppress evidence of the gun. The prosecutor relied on [Belton] to argue that the arrest of any person in a car justifies a search of the passenger compartment of that car. The prosecutor argued that the search that led to the discovery of the gun was constitutionally permissible because Dixon, a passenger in defendant's car, was lawfully arrested. Defendant relied on [Missouri] v Bradshaw, 99 SW3d 73 (Mo App, 2003), a case in which a divided panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals distinguished Belton and held that police officers cannot lawfully search a driver's vehicle following the arrest of a passenger where the passenger was safely arrested and there was no reasonable suspicion that the driver possessed unlawful items.

The circuit court distinguished Belton and followed Bradshaw. The circuit court concluded that defendant was not under arrest at the time Deputy Stuck searched his car. The circuit court further concluded that defendant had a protected privacy interest in his car. The circuit court held that there was no probable cause to arrest defendant and, therefore, the search of his car was not constitutionally permissible. This appeal followed. [Mungo, 277 Mich App at 578-580 (footnote omitted).]



This Court reviews de novo a trial court's decision to dismiss a charge on legal grounds. People v Owen, 251 Mich App 76, 78; 649 NW2d 777 (2002). This Court reviews a trial court's ...

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