Formal Request to Suppress Evidence Does Not Need Highly Detailed Statement of Facts and Law
The Supreme Court of Ohio today ordered a trial court to hold a hearing to consider a woman’s request to suppress evidence gathered by police during a traffic stop in North Ridgeville.
The trial court refused to hold a hearing because it said the woman’s allegations did not provide enough details.
In today’s 6-1 decision written by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, the Supreme Court held that a motion to suppress need not describe “in excruciating detail” the basis for arguing for suppression of the evidence to trigger a hearing on the topic. Instead, the motion must provide sufficient notice to the state of the issues to be considered.
The decision reverses the judgment of the Ninth District Court of Appeals.
In August 2011, Corrine Codeluppi was charged with speeding and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. There was no video recording of the traffic stop or the field sobriety tests that police conducted. Codeluppi filed a motion to suppress other evidence obtained during the stop. The trial court denied her request, stating that it lacked “sufficient particularity” to give the prosecutor and the court notice of the issues to be decided in a hearing on the motion.
Codeluppi then pled no contest, and the court dismissed the speeding charge but found her guilty of driving while intoxicated.
She appealed the trial court’s denial of her motion to suppress evidence to the Ninth District Court of Appeals. The appellate court agreed with the trial court’s decision.
Codeluppi filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.
In today’s opinion, Justice Lanzinger explained that the court in State v. Schindler (1994) held that “‘[i]n order to require a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, the accused must state the motion’s legal and factual bases with sufficient particularity to place the prosecutor and the court on notice of the issues to be decided.’ Failure to include or particularly state the factual and legal basis for a motion to suppress waives that issue.”
Justice Lanzinger wrote that the state claimed that Codeluppi’s motion was not specific in her allegation that the field sobriety tests were not conducted in compliance with standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Justice Lanzinger noted that no video recording of the tests was available, so Codeluppi’s attorney had “no readily available reliable evidence from which counsel could formulate more particularized grounds.”
“Shindler does not require that a defendant set forth the basis for suppression in excruciating detail,” she wrote. “Instead, the question is whether the language used provides sufficient notice to the state. After all, ‘[t]he motion to suppress is merely a procedural vehicle to ‘put the ball into play’ and serve notice that the defendant intends to have the state meet its legislatively mandated burden of demonstrating compliance with any and all challenged regulations and requirements.’ Weiler & Weiler, Baldwin’s Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law, 2012-2013 …. Codeluppi’s motion meets this standard. She alleged that the officer had not conducted the field sobriety tests in substantial compliance with NHTSA guidelines as required by R.C. 4511.19(D)(4)(b). This statement was sufficient to identify the issues Codeluppi was raising.”
Justice Lanzinger’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and William M. O’Neill. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer dissented without an opinion, stating that he would affirm the decision of the appellate court.
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