Washington v. Cruz (Majority)Annotate this Case
An officer from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife saw respondent Eric Cruz illegally "snag" a salmon in the Similkameen River. McCormick arrested Cruz for this misdemeanor fishing violation. The officer handcuffed Cruz, searched his body, and found no weapons, but further questioned the handcuffed Cruz about whether he had weapons elsewhere. Cruz truthfully acknowledged that he had firearms in his truck. A still-handcuffed Cruz was locked in the back of the patrol car while the officer removed three guns from Cruz's truck. The officer did not have, and never sought, a search warrant. The State subsequently charged Cruz, who had a prior felony, with three counts of second degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Cruz moved to suppress the firearms. The trial court agreed with Cruz. The State then moved to dismiss. The trial court granted that motion and dismissed with prejudice. The State then appealed the suppression order, but not the dismissal order. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court granted review to decide whether the rule of Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 343, (2009),and Washington v. Snapp, 275 P.3d 289 (2012) was the controlling case law in this matter, or whether the rule of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), as extended to vehicles in Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032 (1983) provided the framework for analysis instead. But a procedural issue became apparent after the Washington Supreme Court granted review. The State's failure to assign error to the order of dismissal. The Court surmised there were three critical problems with the State's appeal in a situation like this: first, the State failed to assign error to the order of dismissal, in violation of RAP 10.3(a)(4); the State failed to brief and argue the propriety of the order of dismissal, in violation of another RAP (RAP 10.3(a)(6)); and the State was the party that "invited" the trial court to enter the dismissal order that it complained about here. Characterizing the "notice of appeal [as being] from the order of suppression and dismissal," as the amended notice of appeal did, fails to solve these invited error, failure to brief, and failure to assign error problems. Here, even if the Supreme Court reversed the suppression order, "the case below would still be at an end." The Court thus dismissed this appeal.