COURT WATCH: Judge Grants Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Traffic Stop, Dismisses 5-Year-Old Case before Jury Trial

By Kaveh Nasseri

WOODLAND, CA – Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel Wolk this week granted a defense motion to suppress evidence used to charge a man with driving on a suspended license.

The accused, on Sept. 17, 2018, was pulled over by a police officer, who testified he observed the driver’s green Subaru “traveling south at an unsafe speed,” at which point he decided to pull the vehicle over and ask to see the driver’s license.”

The accused responded by saying that he had no license and instead identified himself by name, said the officer, who added to the court he found that the accused’s license had been suspended in 2015 and issued a citation for driving on a suspended license.

Despite the stop and subsequent discovery of evidence used against the accused, there was no evidence presented that the accused had exceeded the speed limit, charged the defense.

And, the defense argued, according to the officer’s own testimony, he had determined the driver’s actions were unsafe only by visually estimating the vehicle’s speed, a practice for which he admitted he was not trained.

The officer testified he didn’t remember the incident, as five years had passed since the traffic stop in question, said the defense.

The officer also did not remember the weather conditions or whether pedestrians were present, two factors which would have helped determine how safely the accused was driving, suggested the defense.

Defense Attorney Whitney Youngman made a motion to suppress the evidence used against the accused, arguing there had been no evidence of speeding and that the officer had lacked sufficient basis for a stop.

Youngman argued the police officer had not been trained in visually estimating the speed of a vehicle, and that such an estimation should not have been used to make a stop. The prosecution argued the officer had a reasonable belief of a vehicle code violation, which was sufficient for a traffic stop.

Judge Wolk granted the motion to suppress evidence, finding that the standard of proof had not been met in this case.

“In a sense, the court doesn’t find the testimony credible,” Wolk said of the police officer’s appearance, adding, “The court does not believe the standard of evidence has been met.” Judge Wolk then dismissed the misdemeanor charge and vacated the jury trial.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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