State v. Dezso, 512 N.W.2d 877 (This is an independent analysis of the case, not shepardized)
Routine-ish traffic stop with some subsequent shenanigans by the boys in blue up for debate here as we ruffle the feathers of the 4th amendment yet again. Hero in this case is traveling from Michigan to California for work, passing through the lovely land of ten thousand lakes when he is pulled over for speeding. So far so good, and this was January so I will assume that its par for the course in Minnesota to invite your pulled over guest into your squad car when its cold outside?
Officer did a license check and verified that Michigan license was good. Then he asked the defendant if he had anything in the car, asked if he could search. Ultimately he felt that something was fishy about the guy’s wallet, and took a look inside. He found a paper with blotter acid (LSD, dude) and arrested the guy. Defendant lost suppression hearing, and intermediate appellate court upheld the denial. Supreme court says not so fast, and cites one of my favorite ambiguous theories of law “whether a reasonable person would have felt free to decline the officer[‘s] requests or otherwise terminate the encounter.” Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 115 L. Ed. 2d 389, 111 S.Ct. 2382, 2387 (1991).
In Maryland, there is a case Ferris v. State, 355 Md. 356 in which this reasoning is rested with a totality of the circumstances test, encompassing a myriad of factors that could lend itself to the defendant feeling intimidated, or feeling free to decline the search, consent, etc. Minnesota seems to have a similar set of circumstances that they use as a test: “the nature of the encounter, the kind of person the defendant is, and what was said and how it was said. The encounter in this case took place at night, on a highway, and in the front seat of a parked squad car”
The court does not find that the circumstances lend themselves to the state meeting the burden of proof to sustain such findings, and reverse the prior decisions of the trial and appellate court.