United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Morris United States District Court Judge
Cody Jackson (Jackson) is charged by Indictment with one
count of involuntary manslaughter in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1153(a) and 1112, and one count of attempted
witness tampering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1512(b)(3). The charges arise from a single vehicle accident
that occurred on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation between
East Glacier, Montana and Browning, Montana on December 11,
2016. Blackfeet Law Enforcement Officer Robert Snyder
requested that medical personnel obtain a sample of
Jackson's blood after the accident under the State of
Montana's implied consent statute, Mont. Code Ann. §
has moved to suppress the results of the blood toxicology
report. Jackson argues that suppression is appropriate
because Officer Snyder lacked probable cause to believe that
he was driving the vehicle involved in the accident. Jackson
argues that the absence of probable cause renders invalid
Officer Snyder's use of Montana's implied consent
law. The Government opposes the motion.
Court conducted a hearing on the motion on February 21, 2018.
The Government presented testimony from nurse Maria Flores
(Flores) and Officer Snyder. The Government also offered a
number of photographs as exhibits. Jackson presented
testimony from nurse Minerva Torres-Sierra (Torres-Sierra).
Court makes the following factual findings based on the
exhibits and testimony presented at the suppression hearing.
The motor vehicle accident in question occurred in the early
morning of December 11, 2016. A late model extended cab
Chevrolet pick-up truck veered from Highway 2 over a steep
embankment. The truck rolled. The truck came to rest on its
truck had three occupants at the time of the accident. A male
passenger was partially ejected out a side window adjacent to
the rear seat of the truck. He was found dead at the scene of
the accident. Jackson and a passenger identified as C.C.
suffered injuries in the accident, but were able to exit the
truck. A medical doctor came upon the accident scene and
transported Jackson and C.C. to the hospital in Browning.
Snyder learned of the accident at approximately 12:52 a.m.
Officer Snyder arrived at the accident scene at approximately
1:12 a.m. Officer Snyder remained at the accident scene for
approximately two hours while law enforcement officers
processed the scene. Law enforcement officers took
photographs of the accident scene and the interior of the
truck. Officer Snyder observed black hair on the ceiling of
the truck above the driver's seat. Officer Snyder also
observed that the keys to the vehicle were not in the
Snyder proceeded to the hospital in Browning. Officer Snyder
met with Jackson and C.C. Officer Snyder observed that
Jackson and C.C. appeared to be intoxicated. Officer Snyder
observed that Jackson's hair was black and that
C.C.'s hair was not black. Officer Snyder found a set of
keys in Jackson's coat pocket. The emblem on the keys
showed that the keys belonged to a Chevrolet vehicle.
Snyder requested that Jackson provide a sample of his blood
for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol.
Officer Snyder read an implied consent form to Jackson.
Jackson did not respond when asked by Officer Snyder whether
he would consent to a blood draw. Jackson continued to lay in
bed with his eyes closed.
Snyder directed medical staff at the hospital to collect a
blood sample from Jackson. Nurse Flores obtained a blood
sample from Jackson at approximately 5:02 a.m. Nurse Flores
testified that Jackson was conscious and orientated to
person, place, time and situation when she obtained the blood
sample. The blood sample was analyzed for the presence of
alcohol. The toxicology report showed that alcohol was
present in Jackson's blood.
implied consent law is set forth in Mont. Code Ann. §
61-8-402. The relevant provision in Montana's implied
consent law for purposes of the present motion is Mont. Code
Ann. § 61-8-402(2)(a)(iii)(B). Section
61-8-402(2)(a)(iii)(B) states that a peace officer may direct
that a blood sample be obtained ...