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State v. Stevens

Supreme Court of Montana

February 12, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JEREMIAH JAMES STEVENS, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: January 3, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lincoln, Cause No. DC-16-66 Honorable Matthew J. Cuffe, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Koan Mercer, Assistant Appellate Defender, Kathryn Brautigam, Clinical Law Student, Helena, Montana.

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana.

          Marcia Boris, Lincoln County Attorney, Libby, Montana.

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath Chief Justice.

         ¶1 Jeremiah James Stevens (Stevens) appeals from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court's denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issues on appeal as follows:

1. Whether the District Court erred in its determination that the officers' initial investigation was supported by particularized suspicion.
2.Whether the immediate use of handcuffs amounted to an unconstitutional arrest unsupported by probable cause.
3. Whether the District Court erred in its determination that the arrest was supported by probable cause.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On June 26, 2016, at approximately six a.m., Deputy Sheriff Brandon Holzer (Deputy Holzer) was preparing to transfer a prisoner from the courthouse in Libby, Montana, to a separate facility. Deputy Holzer was outside of the prisoner transport bay door at the north end of the courthouse, when he noticed a person hiding in the bushes across the street from the courthouse. According to Deputy Holzer, the person hiding in the bushes, later identified as Stevens, was "bobbing up and down." Concerned by Stevens' behavior, Deputy Holzer delayed the prisoner transport and called for backup.

         ¶4 Trooper Trewick arrived to assist Deputy Holzer. The officers approached Stevens on foot with their weapons drawn at their sides. Deputy Holzer ordered Stevens to stand up and show his hands-Stevens cooperated. Deputy Holzer then asked Stevens to turn around, Stevens complied, and Deputy Holzer placed ...


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