Facts: Petitioner Anthony Garvin was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in the Superior Court for Yakima County after a search of his person for weapons occasioned by a traffic stop revealed methamphetamine. Garvin appealed his conviction, asserting that the evidence derived from the search should have been suppressed insofar as the officer who had conducted the search lacked probable cause to squeeze Garvin’s pockets and thereby discover the methamphetamine after he had determined that Garvin was not carrying any weapons. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed Garvin’s conviction, ruling that the search was legal as the methamphetamine was discovered in the ordinary course of searching Garvin for weapons. Garvin appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the officer exceed the permissible scope of the search by squeezing Garvin’s pocket after having already determined that Garvin was not carrying any weapons?
Conclusion: Justice Sanders’ opinion for a unanimous Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals and ordered the evidence derived from the search suppressed, concluding that as the scope of a warrantless search such as that conducted of Garvin’s person is strictly limited to protective purposes, the officer lacked probable cause to continue searching Garvin to determine whether he was carrying contraband after it had been determined that he was not carrying any weapons.
Petitioner: Anthony Gaylord Garvin
Respondent: State of Washington
Argument: Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Prevailing Party: State of Washington (Respondent)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.