Ohio OVI Law: State v. McCord (Anonymous Tip Case)

State v. McCord, 2010-Ohio-1979, 93127 (OHCA8)

Mark appeals his conviction from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for drug possession and possession of criminal tools.  Police received an anonymous tip of drug activity in a black Hummer parked at a stated location. Police responded and blocked the vehicle and ordered the persons inside to put their arms up.   The trial court denied the MTS and a jury gave Defendant the right to appeal.

Ohio courts have recognized three categories of informants: (1) citizen informants; (2) known informants, i.e., those from the criminal world who have previously provided reliable tips; and (3) anonymous informants, who are comparatively unreliable. Maumee v. Weisner, 87 Ohio.St.3d 295, 300, 1999-Ohio-68, 720 N.E.2d 507. “[A]n anonymous tip alone seldom demonstrates the informant’s basis of knowledge or veracity” to justify an investigative stop. Alabama v. White (1990), 496 U.S. 325, 329, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301.

In State v. Whitsette, Cuyahoga App. No. 92566, 2009-Ohio-4373, which involved a fact pattern similar to the one in this case, this court affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion to suppress because “the caller-informant failed to provide more specific details that the officers could corroborate for veracity and failed to indicate the caller-informant possessed inside knowledge of the criminal behavior.” Quoting Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266, 270, 120 S.Ct. 1375, 146 L.Ed.2d 254, this court noted, “The anonymous call concerning [the defendant] provided no predictive information and, therefore, left the police without means to test the informant’s knowledge or credibility. That the allegation * * * turned out to be correct does not suggest that the officers, * * *, had a reasonable basis for suspecting [the defendant] of engaging in unlawful conduct: The reasonableness of official suspicion must be measured by what the officers knew before they conducted their search. All the police had to go on in this case was the bare report of an unknown, unaccountable informant who neither explained how he knew about the gun nor supplied any basis for believing he had inside information about [the defendant].'”

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth District held: “We find that the officers who conducted the search and seizure of ‘s vehicle and person did not possess a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity before initiating a Terry stop. Therefore, the court erred in denying ‘s motion to suppress.”

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