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State v. Oxford

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 30, 2017

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
NATHAN DANIEL OXFORD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted April 26, 2017

         Washington County Circuit Court C112623CR, C140104CR; Janelle F. Wipper, Judge.

          Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, and Erik Blumenthal, Deputy Public Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Peenesh Shah, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Hadlock, Chief Judge, and Sercombe, Senior Judge.

         Case Summary: In this criminal case, defendant challenges the trial court's decision to strike his motion to suppress. The court struck defendant's motion on the ground that it failed to adequately apprise the court as to the issues and, therefore, failed to comply with Uniform Trial Court Rule (UTCR) 4.060(1). On appeal, defendant asserts that the trial court erred in striking the motion because (1) the motion satisfied UTCR 4.060(1), and (2) a defendant is not required to allege specific facts and arguments when contesting whether a warrant less search violates Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution. Held: Under the circumstances, the trial court erred in striking defendant's motion for failure to comply with UTCR 4.060(1). Defendant's motion cited authority on which defendant relied, apprised the court and the state that defendant challenged specific searches and seizures, laid out the evidence that defendant sought to have suppressed, and set forth defendant's position that the searches and seizures had been warrant less and, therefore, per se unreasonable. Defendant was entitled to have his suppression motion considered on its merits.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [287 Or.App. 581] SERCOMBE, S. J.

         In this consolidated criminal case, defendant challenges the trial court's decision to strike his motion to suppress and its subsequent entry of judgments revoking his probation and convicting him of felon in possession of a firearm, ORS 166.270, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, ORS 166.384, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894. The trial court struck defendant's motion to suppress on the ground that the motion failed to "adequately appris[e] the Court as to what the issues are, " and, therefore, failed to comply with Uniform Trial Court Rule (UTCR) 4.060(1).[1] On appeal, defendant contends that the court erred in striking the motion because "(1) defendant's motion satisfied UTCR 4.060(1), and (2) a defendant is not required to allege specific facts and arguments when contesting whether a warrantless search violates Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution."[2] As explained below, we reverse and remand the judgments of the trial court in this case.

         Defendant was arrested and indicted for, among other things, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He had previously been convicted of felon in possession, and was on probation for that conviction at the time of his arrest. Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence. In his motion to suppress, defendant moved, pursuant to Article I, section 9, for an order suppressing "the stop and seizure of the defendant, search of defendant's residence and personal room, and the seizure of any and all evidence obtained as a result therefrom, including the firearms and explosive device, and all oral derivative [287 Or.App. 582] evidence." Citing State v. Miller, 269 Or. 328, 334, 524 P.2d 1399 (1974), he asserted that he had been subject to a warrantless search and seizure, which was "per se unreasonable, " and the "state has the burden of proving otherwise." Also relying on Miller, defendant further stated that he was "not required to allege any additional facts in a motion to suppress."

         In a brief in support of his motion to suppress, defendant discussed UTCR 4.060, Miller, and related cases at length. It was his position that his motion complied with the rule and that, in view of the rule and applicable case law, "the burden of production shifts to the state upon a claim that the search was warrantless, and the defendant's motion must be granted unless and until the state produces evidence and argument to overcome the per se unreasonable search against which the defendant has constitutional protections."

         At a pretrial scheduling hearing, defendant's counsel discussed scheduling for the suppression motion. The following exchange ensued:

"THE COURT: Is this one of those motions where you didn't file the affidavit, all that stuff? Didn't comply with the [U]TCRs?
"[COUNSEL]: It's hard to say I believe I am complying with [U]TCR.
"THE COURT: So this is one of those motions. I think your answer to my question is, yes, it is one of those. I just want to make sure, so I get a good idea of which judge I need to send it to * * * to make sure it's dismissed without even being heard[.]"

         At a later hearing relating to the motion to suppress, the court observed that the state had not moved to strike and it appeared that the state did not intend to file such a motion. However, the court, on its own motion, struck defendant's motion, stating that, "as far as the Court is concerned, what you filed in this case is not sufficient."

         Thereafter, as noted, defendant was convicted of felon in possession, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. In [287 Or.App. 583] addition, the court revoked defendant's probation on his existing felon-in-possession conviction, based on the finding that defendant had "violated the terms and conditions of his probation by committing new crimes (in [the consolidated case, ] C140104CR)."

         On appeal, defendant asserts that the court erred in striking the motion to suppress. We review the trial court's ruling in this case for legal error. See State v. Roth, 235 Or.App. 441, 449, 234 P.3d 1019 (2010).

         UTCR 4.060(1) provides:

"All motions to suppress evidence:
"(a) must cite any constitutional provision, statute, rule, case, or other authority upon which it is based; and
"(b) must include in the motion document the moving party's brief, which must sufficiently apprise the court and the adverse party of the arguments relied upon."

         As noted, defendant asserts that his motion satisfied the requirements of that rule and was "sufficient under Miller and this court's decisions." The state responds that the motion was insufficient to frame the issues in the case. We conclude that defendant has the better argument: The motion satisfied the requirements of the UTCR and was sufficient to require shifting the burden to the state to demonstrate the legality of the warrantless search.

         We begin by observing that, in our view, the requirements of UTCR 4.060(1) are clear on their face. The motion must cite the authority on which it is based and, along with the accompanying brief, must "sufficiently apprise" the court and the state of the "arguments" relied upon by the moving party. The rule contains no requirement that a suppression motion contain detailed factual arguments. Instead, a motion that generally identifies a search or seizure by the state, asserts that the search or seizure was warrantless and, therefore, per se unreasonable unless the state demonstrates otherwise, cites authority in support of the motion, and requests suppression of evidence ...


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