Vermont v. DupuisAnnotate this Case
The State appealed a trial court's grant of defendant Ronald Dupuis's motion to suppress evidence arising from a game warden's warrantless search of his property, arguing that because defendant's "no trespass" postings did not comport with Vermont's hunting posting statute, he enjoyed no expectation of privacy. Defendant was charged with taking big game by illegal means as well as baiting and feeding deer. Although the warden testified that he saw no signs posted, defendant and others testified, and the trial court found, that defendant had posted between twenty-five and thirty signs stating "no trespassing" or "keep out" around the perimeter of his property, located approximately 100 to 150 feet apart. A gate with multiple "no trespassing" signs blocked the main entrance onto defendant's property. There was no evidence that the game warden had a warrant or suspicion of criminal activity at the time he entered defendant's land. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the warden's warrantless search, ruling that it violated Chapter I, Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution. The court held that by posting his land to the extent that he had, defendant "took the steps necessary to clearly communicate to the reasonable person that the public was excluded from his Bloomfield property," thereby preserving his expectation of privacy. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed.