FROM THE CALHOUN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 07CR-12-32]
HONORABLE HAMILTON H. SINGLETON, JUDGE.
& Benca, by: Patrick J. Benca, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.
Martin was convicted by a Calhoun County jury of trafficking
a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and simultaneous
possession of drugs and firearms. He was sentenced as a
habitual offender to a total of fifty years' imprisonment
in the Arkansas Department of Correction. On appeal, Martin
challenges only the trial court's denial of his motion to
suppress. We affirm.
reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress, we conduct a de
novo review based on the totality of the circumstances,
reviewing findings of historical facts for clear error and
determining whether those facts give rise to reasonable
suspicion or probable cause, giving due weight to inferences
drawn by the circuit court. Franklin v. State, 2010
Ark.App. 792, 378 S.W.3d 296. We defer to the superior
position of the circuit court to pass on the credibility of
witnesses and will reverse only if the circuit court's
ruling is clearly against the preponderance of the evidence.
Id. With these standards in mind, we turn our
attention to the evidence before the circuit court.
October 2012, Officer Vernon Morris, an off-duty wildlife
officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, was
driving through a wildlife-management area when he observed a
black Chevrolet pickup truck with a sixteen-foot trailer
filled with scrap metal parked near an area routinely used
for illegal dumping. Martin was standing in front of the
truck, which had its hood raised. Officer Morris stopped to
see if Martin needed assistance. Martin replied that he had
just stopped to use the restroom.
Martin denied any need for assistance, Officer Morris
continued on his way. However, because Martin's response
seemed odd, Officer Morris took note of the truck's
license plate and contacted Calhoun County Sheriff's
Deputy Terry Clark to alert him. He suggested that Deputy
Clark check things out if he had the opportunity.
Deputy Clark drove to the location and observed the truck in
the same location with the hood still open. Martin was still
standing in front of the truck. Deputy Clark pulled up,
rolled down his window, and asked if Martin was having car
trouble. Martin advised Clark that he had had some trouble
and that he had pulled over to use the restroom. Clark
inquired into the scrap iron in the trailer, to which Martin
responded that he had picked the scrap metal up in a
neighboring county. Clark informed Martin that there had been
thefts of scrap iron and asked if he could check it out to
make sure everything was in order. Clark asked for
Martin's identification, and Martin complied, retrieving
his ID from his truck.
Clark ran a criminal-records check on Martin, which came back
detailing an extensive criminal history. At that point,
Deputy Clark stepped from his vehicle. When he stepped out of
his car, Deputy Clark could see into Martin's truck and
observed the butt of a pistol sticking out from under the
asked, Martin admitted that the pistol was his and that he
used it when he was bow hunting. Deputy Clark asked Martin to
walk to the front of the truck while he retrieved the weapon.
While retrieving the weapon, Deputy Clark found two Ziploc
bags of methamphetamine (one large and one small) and another
pistol. Deputy Clark then placed Martin under arrest.
to trial, Martin moved to suppress the evidence discovered
during the search of his vehicle on the basis that his
interaction with Deputy Clark violated Rules 2.2 and 3.1 of
the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. The trial court
denied his motion.
was subsequently convicted of trafficking a controlled
substance and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms.
Martin appeals his convictions, alleging that the trial court
improperly denied his motion to suppress. He contends that
his encounter with the police was impermissible under the
encounters have been classified into three categories. The
first category is contemplated by Rule 2.2 of the Arkansas
Rules of Criminal Procedure where law enforcement approaches
a citizen to obtain information or cooperation in aid of an
investigation or the prevention of crime. This occurs, for
example, when an officer merely approaches an individual on a
street and asks if he is willing to answer some questions.
Thompson v. State, 303 Ark. 407, 409, 797 S.W.2d
450, 451 (1990). This approach does not rise to the level of
being a seizure and is the least intrusive of the three
categories. The second category is contemplated by Rule 3.1
of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. This second type
of encounter occurs when the officer justifiably restrains an
individual for a short period of time because the officer has