|CALENDAR STATUS: Active|
|State of Oregon v. Thomas Gregory Machuca|
|John Kroger, on behalf of Petitioner on Review|
Peter Gartlan, on behalf of Respondent on Review
Statement of Issues:
|State of Oregon v. Thomas Gregory Machuca, (S057910) (A133362) (appeal from Multnomah County Circuit Court; opinion reported at 231 Or App 232, __ P3d __ (2009)).|
The state seeks review of a divided, en banc Court of Appeals decision that reversed and remanded a trial court decision denying a motion to suppress evidence filed by defendant Thomas Gregory Machuca.
Defendant was involved in a single-vehicle automobile accident and was transported to a hospital. A police officer contacted defendant in a room that was part of the hospital's emergency room facilities. At the time of contact, the officer had concluded that there was probable cause to believe that defendant had committed the crime of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), based on his investigation at the accident scene. The officer explained to defendant why the officer was there and that defendant was under arrest for DUII and reckless driving. The officer gave defendant his Miranda warnings and asked defendant standard questions from a DUII interview report form. The officer then read defendant his DMV (Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division) implied consent rights and consequences pursuant to ORS 813.100(1) and ORS 813.130, and asked for defendant's consent to a blood test.
Under ORS 813.100(1), anyone who operates a motor vehicle upon public premises is deemed to have impliedly consented to a chemical test of the person's breath, or, under certain circumstances, the person's blood. The rights and consequences in ORS 813.130 include the following information with respect to a person's refusal to take a test: evidence of the refusal may be offered against the person; the person's driving privileges will be suspended; the suspension will be substantially longer if the person refuses the test (than if the person fails the test); the person's license will be taken immediately; and the person will not be eligible for a hardship permit for at least 90 days (but possibly may qualify for a hardship permit in 30 days if the person fails the test instead).
Defendant agreed to a blood test, which revealed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 percent. Subsequently, defendant was charged with misdemeanor DUII and reckless driving.
Before trial, defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that it was obtained in violation of his rights under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court agreed with defendant that the state had not met its burden to prove exigent circumstances as an exception to the warrant requirement, but nevertheless determined that, under the totality of the circumstances, defendant's consent to have his blood drawn and analyzed was voluntary. Thereafter, defendant entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress.
Defendant appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded in a divided, en banc decision. The majority first rejected defendant's argument that his arrest was unlawful because the police needed a warrant before entering defendant's hospital room, noting that a hospital room was not analogous to a home, because defendant did not have the right to restrict access to his treatment area. Turning to defendant's suppression arguments, the majority relied primarily on a passage in this court's decision in State v. Newton, 291 Or 788, 636 P2d 393 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds by State v. Spencer, 305 Or 59, 750 P2d 147 (1988), in which the court stated that if a person consents only after being warned that he will suffer a substantial penalty if he refuses, the resulting consent cannot be regarded as voluntary. The majority concluded -- despite noting some misgivings on the abstract correctness of the conclusion in Newton -- that in light of Newton and other factors (such as the fact that defendant had been injured in a car accident, was under the influence of intoxicants, and had just been arrested), defendant's consent was not voluntary. Finally, the majority agreed with the trial court that the state had failed to prove that a warrant could not have been obtained within a reasonable time.
The dissent would have held that a police officer's threat to do what the law permits is not coercive. The dissent asserted that the statement in Newton was dicta and, because the statement was contained in a plurality opinion, was not necessarily a statement of the majority of the court. The dissent also claimed that the statement has never been "ratified" by either appellate court, and opined that it has never been cited because it is incorrect.
On review, the issue is whether a police officer's advice to a person arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) about the person's specific rights and consequences under Oregon's implied consent law makes the person's subsequent consent to breath, blood, or urine tests involuntary and suppressible under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution.
The foregoing summary of a Supreme Court case that is scheduled for oral argument has been prepared for the benefit of the public. Parties and practitioners should rely on neither the factual summary set out above, nor the statement of issues to be decided, as delineating the questions that the Supreme Court ultimately may consider on review. See generally Oregon Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.20.
Justice(s) NOT Participating: