Appeal from Superior Court, Washington Unit, Criminal
Division. Thomas A. Zonay, J.
William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and David Tartter,
Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for
Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Rebecca Turner,
Appellate Defender, Montpelier, for Defendant-Appellee.
Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Eaton, JJ.
[¶1] Defendant Ivan Alcide was charged with
possession of heroin and cocaine and sought to suppress all
evidence of drugs seized from his vehicle after a police dog
indicated the presence of drugs. The trial court found that
the contraband was obtained through the illegal expansion of
the scope of a motor vehicle violation stop into a criminal
drug investigation, suppressed the evidence, and dismissed
the charges. The State of Vermont appeals the trial
court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress and
dismiss. On appeal, the State contends that a minimal delay
following the completion of a traffic stop for a dog sniff is
reasonable under federal and state law and, in the
alternative, that the trial court committed plain error in
excluding evidence based upon an illegal detention when the
evidence was unrelated to the detention itself. Defendant has
filed a motion to dismiss this appeal on the grounds the
State untimely filed its notice of appeal. We reject
defendant's argument and conclude we do have jurisdiction
over this appeal. However, in light of the U.S. Supreme
Court's decision in Rodriguez v. United States,
__ U.S. __, __, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1612 (2015), which
established that the Fourth Amendment does not permit a dog
after the completion of a traffic stop that is "
prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the
mission" of issuing a ticket for the violation, we
affirm the trial court's decision to dismiss the case
against defendant (quotation omitted).
[¶2] The trial court's findings of fact
are uncontested. Defendant's automobile was stopped on
August 11, 2012 at around 5:00 P.M. in Montpelier. The
corporal who stopped defendant was in his cruiser with a
drug-sniffing dog when he heard radio transmissions between
the dispatcher and another police officer. That officer
requested information about the registration of
defendant's vehicle; the dispatcher informed the officer
that the registration was valid but defendant's license
was under suspension. The corporal had received information
from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
(BATF) that defendant was a drug dealer in central Vermont,
though " no specific information about [defendant's]
alleged activities was given, nor was there information given
to establish that any of the underlying information ... was
reliable." Nevertheless, based on the information from
BATF and the fact that he had a drug dog and was "
always looking to make drug arrests," the corporal
requested information as to defendant's whereabouts and
went to locate him.
[¶3] Subsequently, the corporal saw
defendant's vehicle traveling towards him on Vine Street,
a public highway, and recognized defendant as the driver.
Before the corporal could stop defendant's vehicle,
defendant pulled into the driveway of a residence that the
corporal knew belonged to the family of a deceased police
officer. He called out to defendant, who told him he was
looking for the house of a woman, whose name the officer
recognized as a person who used drugs and was associated with
known drug users, even though he " had never arrested
her for any drug offenses, nor was he aware of drugs having
ever been found on her."
[¶4] The corporal directed defendant to sit
in his vehicle. After obtaining defendant's license and
registration information, he contacted dispatch and confirmed
that defendant's license was in fact suspended. He also
called an agent at BATF, who informed him that defendant was
" on the front line of dealing drugs" in central
[¶5] When the corporal returned to
defendant's vehicle, he informed defendant he would be
mailing a ticket for operating a motor vehicle while under
suspension. He then asked if there were any drugs in the car.
Defendant denied having drugs and, when asked, denied
permission for a search of the vehicle. The corporal had not
observed any drugs on defendant's person or within the
vehicle, nor had he seen anything to indicate defendant was
under the influence of illegal drugs during the stop itself.
The corporal returned to his cruiser and released the drug
dog and walked him around defendant's vehicle. Defendant
was not in the vehicle when the dog circled the vehicle. The
dog alerted to the presence of drugs upon reaching the
driver's side door. The corporal informed defendant ...