June 26, 2018
Sit up Straight or Go to Jail
It is not often we review North Dakota cases but when cases get sent to us by “friends of the firm,” we have to review them. North Dakota has no precedential value on Minnesota courts but they can be persuasive. They are considered a “sister court” to Minnesota but it is more like a step sister. Until they do something like this and totally redeem themselves. Here is what happened.
Nhia Lee and Bee Thor were driving through the North Dakota presumably counting power lines when they got pulled over. (Side note: The name Bee Thor rules. It would only be cooler if Praying Mantis Loki were in the car as well). They got pulled over by a Stutsman County Deputy Matt Thom. They were traveling 2 miles below the speed limit. A faster car pulled in front of their truck and apparently their truck did not slow down “enough” (underneath the speed limit) so they were following too close. So they got pulled over.
When the Deputy approached the truck, he noticed Lee was sitting “too rigidly,” had a “suspiciously” tight grip on the steering wheel, and Lee did not turn to look when the deputy drove past. Thom followed the pair for 12 miles before pulling them over. So because of this horrible posture, he decided to search the car. Deputy Thom found 476 pounds of the Colorado Cotton (I don’t think that is a term). However, our story does not end there.
Judge Jay Schmitz ruled that Lee’s, apple on the head, posture, firm grip, and decision to focus on the road rather than to gaze Thom, did not constitute probable cause to pull him over. Schmitz called the prosecution’s argument “absurd” and Thom’s testimony “too inconsistent and contrived to be credible.” The evidence was suppressed during the stop could not be used at trial.
Stutsman County State’s Attorney Fritz Fremgen is unsure if he’ll appeal the ruling. The fate of the weed is up in the air. The could just put out in front of a 7-11 and write “free” on it. So feel free to cross state borders and grab that wheel as hard as you want.