People v. B.L. (Gates Tn. Ct., 7/19/18)
In a difficult Driving While Intoxicated case, Mr. Corletta obtained suppression of key evidence, in the form of empty personal sized wine bottles, seized from his client's vehicle, in People v. B.L. (Gates Tn. Ct., 7/19/18).
In that case, Mr. Corletta’s client was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated after sliding off the roadway during a snowstorm. Following the arrest, the officer testified he conducted an “inventory search” of the client's vehicle, and found empty personal sized wine bottles.
However, the officer failed to testify as to any of the necessary prerequisites for an inventory search; i.e. following police department regulations, or compiling a valid inventory of Defendant’s vehicle.
Noticing this, and knowing the law regarding inventory searches, which are supposed to be for the protection of property, Mr. Corletta conducted cross-examination, in which he further questioned the officer as to the legal requirements for inventory searches. The officer admitted he had not followed any of the proper procedures mandated by caselaw and the Constitution.
Mr. Corletta promptly made an application to suppress the wine bottles. The District Attorney vigorously opposed, claiming the wine bottles were in plain view. However, the District Attorney also failed to elicit any evidence of plain view during the People’s direct case.
Mr. Corletta, again citing relevant case law, argued the People could not rely on a theory on which they had not elicited any proof at the hearing. The Court completely agreed with Mr. Corletta, and in a Decision rendered from the bench, suppressed all the wine bottles, which cannot be used against his client.
In a difficult case, a key piece of evidence can not be used against Mr. Corletta’s client. Once again, Mr. Corletta employed criminal law concepts largely used in drug cases to benefit a client in a Driving While Intoxicated case, where many other attorneys would not have made any such objection.