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State v. Dillard

Superior Court of Delaware

May 17, 2018

BAKR DILLARD, Defendant.

          Submitted: April 30, 2018

          Patrick J. Collins, Esquire, Mark A. Denney, Deputy Attorney General


          Vivian L. Medinilla Judge

         Upon Consideration of State's Motion for Reargument, DENIED.

         AND NOW TO WIT, this 17th day of May, 2018, upon consideration of the State's Motion for Reargument and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

         1. After the Court issued its Opinion and granted suppression in favor of Defendant, the State filed a timely Motion for Reargument on March 23, 2018. Defendant filed a response on April 2, 2018. A hearing on the Motion for Reargument was held on April 30, 2018.

         2. The facts underlying the State's Motion for Reargument have been previously described by this Court in its March 16, 2018 Opinion granting Defendant's Motion to Suppress.[1]

         3. The State maintains there was no Fourth Amendment violation in what began as a routine traffic stop and resulted in the Wilmington Police Department (" WPD") officer calling in a drug detection K-9 Unit to conduct a dog sniff of the vehicle that yielded evidence sought to be used against Defendant. The State argues the Fourth Amendment was not implicated because there was no measurable extension of the stop and thus no reasonable articulable suspicion was required by the WPD.

         4. The bases for the State's Motion for Reargument are two-fold. First, it argues that this Court misapprehended the facts when it ruled that the officer "detoured" from his mission of issuing the ticket, and thus found that the officer measurably extended the traffic stop into something more. Second, the State argues that because this Court improperly found the existence of a measurable extension, the Court further misapprehended the law by requiring that the officer have reasonable articulable suspicion to justify calling the K-9 Unit. The State contends that no reasonable articulable suspicion was necessary because the officer was still issuing the ticket when the dog sniff occurred. Thus, it argues, had the Court properly applied the facts and the law, it would have denied suppression.

         Standard of Review

         5. Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d) states: "In all cases not provided for by rule or administrative order, the court shall regulate its practice in accordance with the applicable Superior Court civil rule... ."[2] "Superior Court Civil Rule 59[ ] is made applicable to criminal cases by Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d)."[3]

         6. Delaware Superior Court Civil Rule 59(e) permits the Court to reconsider "its findings of fact, conclusions of law, or judgment. . . ."[4] "Delaware law places a heavy burden on a [party] seeking relief pursuant to Rule 59."[5] To prevail on a motion for reargument, the movant must demonstrate that "the Court has overlooked a controlling precedent or legal principle[ ], or the Court has misapprehended the law or facts such as would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[6] Further, "[a] motion for reargument is not a device for raising new arguments, "[7] nor is it "intended to rehash the arguments already decided by the court."[8] Such tactics frustrate the interests of judicial efficiency and the orderly process of reaching finality on the issues.[9] The moving party has the burden of demonstrating "newly discovered evidence, a change of law, or manifest injustice."[10]


         7. This Court determined that the conduct of WPD law enforcement enlarged the boundaries of the ordinary tasks associated with a lawful routine traffic stop such that they prolonged the duration and scope of the traffic stop without reasonable articulable suspicion to justify the seizure (i.e., the second detention.) Specifically, the State takes issue with the ruling and the characterization that "Officer Wilkers detoured from his task of issuing the ticket to make the call to Officer Caez and wait for the K-9 Unit to arrive. This Court considers this a measurable extension of the initial stop."[11]

         8. The State claims the Court misapprehended facts or mischaracterized the conduct of the officer where there was no such "detour" because the officer was simultaneously calling the K-9 Unit to the scene while working on issuing Defendant his traffic ticket, and the K-9 unit arrived before the officer actually issued the ticket. Thus, the State argues no reasonable articulable suspicion was required.

         9. The State re-styles the same unsuccessful argument that this Court rejected in the original Opinion, wherein the Court noted:

The State's argument that because the officer was expeditiously working on both at the same time and thus no reasonable articulable suspicion was required lacks merit, especially where the officer made his intent clear. Two other officers had already arrived on the scene when Officers decided to call for Officer Caez. The purpose of the call was not to have four officers-and a dog-assist with issuing a traffic ticket.

         10. This Court conducted its fact-specific analysis of this stop as to both duration and scope and chose the word "detoured, " in part, as utilized in the 2015 decision of Rodriguez v. United States, [12] The Rodriguez Court identifies how "[l]ike a Terry stop, the tolerable duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop context is determined by the seizure's 'mission'-to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop."[13] Here, the State fails to establish how the Court misapprehended the facts that the acts of the officer stayed true to the mission of issuing the ticket.

         11. The facts accepted by the Court included the officer's testimony that he knew before he pulled the vehicle over that he had sufficient information to cite the driver with improper window tint, when he verified that the vehicle registration did not include the proper waiver. The officer testified that Defendant and passenger provided appropriate documents and truthful responses to ...

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