CARL RICHARD COOK a/k/a CARL R. COOK a/k/a CARL COOK
RANKIN COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/10/2012
RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOHN HUEY EMFINGER JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CLARENCE TERRELL GUTHRIE, III
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: MICHAEL A. BOLAND, RICHARD H. WILSON
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
¶1. Carl Richard Cook was convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence ("DUI"), first offense, in the Rankin County Justice Court. Cook appealed to the County Court of Rankin County. At a trial de novo before the county court, Cook's counsel moved to dismiss the case, claiming that the investigatory stop which led to Cook's arrest was an illegal search and seizure because it was based on an anonymous tip that lacked sufficient indicia of reliability. The county court denied the motion and entered a judgment of conviction. Cook then appealed to the Rankin County Circuit Court, and the circuit court affirmed the county court's conviction. Next, Cook appealed his conviction to this Court, and the case was assigned to the Court of Appeals. Cook v. Rankin County, ___So. 3d ___, 2013 WL 6233891 (Miss. Ct. App. Dec. 3, 2013). Finding that the investigatory stop was legally justified, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Rankin County. Having granted Cook's Petition for W rit of Certiorari, we now consider whether the investigatory stop, which was based on an anonymous tip and led to Cook's arrest, violated Cook's Fourth-Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. Because the facts of today's case are not in dispute, they are quoted, in part, from the Court of Appeals' opinion:
On March 12, 2011, Reservoir Patrol Officer Timothy Ware of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District was on duty in the area of Northshore Parkway and Timber Lake Campground in Rankin County, Mississippi. Officer Ware received a call from the Reservoir patrol dispatch to "be on the lookout" (BOLO) for a vehicle that was driving erratically and the driver of the vehicle possibly flashing a badge of some sort.
Officer Ware did not know who made the initial call to law enforcement. To his knowledge, the "tip" was from an anonymous caller and was uncorroborated. The call described a gray Chevrolet Avalanche, and gave the license-plate number. Officer W are saw a vehicle that matched the description he received. He turned his patrol vehicle around and proceeded behind the suspect Avalanche. Officer Ware observed the Avalanche for a short period of time, though he did not observe the vehicle driving erratically at that time. Nor did he observe the driver flashing a badge or committing any crimes.
Deputy Fred Lovett of the Rankin County Sheriff's Office was also in the area when the BOLO came over both the Reservoir patrol dispatch and the Rankin County Sheriff's dispatch. Deputy Lovett met the Avalanche head on. He then turned around and got within "a couple" of car lengths behind Officer Ware and the Avalanche.
Officer Ware initiated the stop on the Avalanche on Church Street in the Reservoir area. Based on subsequent interactions between Officer Ware, Deputy Lovett, and Cook, Cook was arrested for DUI, first offense.
Cook was convicted of misdemeanor DUI, first offense, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated Section 63-11-30(1)(a) (Supp. 2012), in the Rankin County Justice Court. Cook appealed and received a trial de novo before the Rankin County County Court. In a non-jury trial before the county judge, Cook's counsel moved to dismiss the case at the conclusion of the State's case-in-chief. Cook argued that the BOLO that led to the investigatory stop violated his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure, as it was based on an anonymous tip that lacked sufficient indicia of reliability. The county judge denied the motion and entered a detailed order overruling the motion to dismiss. The county judge also entered a judgment of conviction.
Cook then appealed his conviction to the Rankin County Circuit Court. As error, Cook argued that the county judge erred in the application of the Fourth Amendment standards regarding uncorroborated anonymous tips. The circuit court entered an opinion and order that affirmed the county court's conviction.
Id. at *1.
¶3. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court's judgment, finding that the stop did not violate Cook's Fourth-Amendment rights. Id. at *6. Essentially, the Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient indicia of reliability when the officers located a vehicle matching the description of Cook's vehicle. Id. Further, the court held that the behavior reported – "reckless driving and impersonating a law enforcement official [–] . . . justified [the] investigatory stop to resolve the ambiguous situation." Id.
¶4. In his Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Cook raised the following issue: "Whether law enforcement officers in Mississippi may conduct an investigatory stop on a vehicle based on an anonymous tip that lacks any corroboration . . . ."
¶5. This Court applies a mixed standard of review when considering Fourth-Amendment issues. Eaddy v. State, 63 So.3d 1209, 1213 (Miss. 2011) (quoting Dies v. State, 926 So.2d 910, 917 (Miss. 2006)). We apply de novo review when determining whether probable cause or reasonable suspicion exists. Id. But the de novo review is limited to the trial court's "decision based on historical facts ...