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People v. Haack

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

June 17, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
Keith Haack. Defendant-Appellee

          Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court Moffat County District Court Case No. 18CR146 Honorable Shelley A. Hill, Judge

          Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Brett D. Barkey, District Attorney, Fourteenth Judicial District Matthew J.W. Tjosvold, Chief Deputy District Attorney Craig, Colorado

          Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Salky Law, LLC Randall P. Salky Steamboat Springs, Colorado

          OPINION

          COATS CHIEF JUSTICE

         ¶1 The People brought an interlocutory appeal, as authorized by section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2018), and C.A.R. 4.1, from an order of the district court partially granting Haack's motion and suppressing evidence acquired after officers made a warrantless entry into his residence. The district court found that the officers, who were investigating the defendant for driving under the influence, had unlawfully followed the defendant into his home and, as a result, all relevant evidence they acquired either inside the home or after the defendant and officers went back outside should be suppressed. The court expressly found that the defendant was not in custody for purposes of Miranda warnings until he was ultimately arrested outside the home and that the results of the defendant's field sobriety tests, including a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and subsequent blood test, both of which were conducted after leaving the residence, would have been admissible but for the earlier constitutional violation. The court did not, however, offer any rationale for suppression of these test results beyond the fact that they followed in time the unlawful entry.

         ¶2 Because the district court failed to address the question whether the evidence it suppressed was independent of the earlier unlawful entry, the portion of its order suppressing this evidence was not adequately supported by its findings and is therefore vacated. The case is remanded with directions to determine whether the evidence acquired after leaving the defendant's home was in fact derivative of the unlawful entry at all and if so whether the subsequent searches in which that evidence was discovered were genuinely independent sources of that evidence.

         I.

         ¶3 Keith Haack was charged with two felonies: Driving Under the Influence (DUI)- Fourth or Subsequent Offense and DUI Per Se-Fourth or Subsequent Offense. He moved to suppress all evidence obtained after police first made contact with him, arguing that the police had failed to give the required Miranda[1] advisement and had illegally searched his home. After hearing the motion, the district court made written findings of fact and conclusions of law, partially granting and partially denying the motion.

         ¶4 As relevant to the suppression order challenged here by the People, the district court's findings and other undisputed testimony at the hearing indicated the following. In the early morning hours of April 12, 2018, the police received a report to the effect that the defendant had just driven away from the Memorial Hospital at Craig after having been told by medical personnel that he was unsafe to drive. The reporting party gave the defendant's name and a description and license plate number of the truck he was driving. Within minutes an officer arrived at the defendant's home and saw the defendant step down from the driver's seat of the truck described in the report, which still had its lights on.

         ¶5 When questioned by the officer, the defendant responded that friends had driven him home from the hospital and that he was only in the truck to look for cigarettes. A second officer who had arrived spoke on the phone directly with the doctor making the report, who indicated that the defendant had come to the hospital intoxicated and, despite being told that his blood alcohol content made it unsafe for him to drive before about noon, was seen by the doctor and a nurse driving away in his truck. In conversation with the police on his patio, the defendant confirmed that he had sought treatment for alcohol withdrawal after having consumed alcohol for two days straight. Although he claimed that he had stopped drinking around 8 or 9 o'clock the previous evening, he admitted several times that he was not safe to drive.

         ¶6 Over the course of his interaction with the police, in which he declined to perform field sobriety tests or give the names or phone numbers of the friends who drove him home, the defendant went in and out of his home several times, closing and reopening the door. Ultimately, the police followed the defendant into his home, preventing him from closing the door. After the officers repeatedly asked him to step back outside, the defendant complied, but not before an officer was able to detect an odor of alcohol on him.

         ¶7 Once outside the officers continued to request that the defendant submit to field sobriety tests, including a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. When he ultimately complied and was adjudged not to have completed the tests as a sober person would, the defendant was arrested. After being read an express consent form, the defendant chose to take a blood test and was taken to the hospital where the test was administered.

         ¶8 The district court concluded that in making a warrantless entry into the defendant's home, the police violated his constitutional rights. It nevertheless also found that the defendant was never in custody for purposes of the Miranda requirements until he was formally placed under arrest, and that the field sobriety test results, including the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, would have been admissible, subject to the constitutional violations it had already noted. It therefore granted the motion to suppress in part and denied it in part, stating that all observations by the officers and all statements made by the defendant before the officers crossed the threshold of the defendant's residence would be admissible in evidence, but that all observations by the officers, all statements made by the defendant, and all other evidence obtained after the officers crossed the threshold of the defendant's residence would be suppressed.

         ¶9 The People filed an interlocutory appeal, as authorized by section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2018), and C.A.R. 4.1, asserting in this court that the district court erred in suppressing the results of the blood and field sobriety tests, as well as statements made by the defendant after ...


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