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Jackson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

February 19, 2018

Christopher Jackson, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

         On appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. Angela C. Dempsey, Judge.

          Candice Kaye Brower and Melissa Joy Ford, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Kaitlin Weiss, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          Winsor, J.

         Christopher Jackson appeals his convictions and sentences, claiming violations of the Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. More specifically, Jackson argues that the trial court should have granted his second motion to suppress, that only a jury could determine his status as a Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR), and that his life sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We affirm.

         Jackson and two others broke into a home and held the home's four occupants at gunpoint. The three assailants forced the victims into a bathroom and took turns holding them while the others collected valuables. Jackson later claimed one of the victims had shorted him some marijuana in a recent sale. He admitted he broke into the house but insisted he only intended to take back that marijuana. He claimed the other assailants-not he-had stolen the other items.

         Among the stolen items was an iPhone, so police quickly looked to the "Find My iPhone" application to track the assailants. Armed with real-time tracking and the description the victims provided, officers broadcast a be-on-the-look-out (BOLO) alert. An officer quickly identified a car in the same area as the stolen iPhone, traveling in the same direction as the stolen iPhone, and containing people matching the assailants' general descriptions.

         After waiting for backup, the officer stopped the car, removed and handcuffed the occupants, and conducted a protective sweep of the car. The officer initially saw nothing in plain view but then opened the trunk and found marijuana and a revolver with an altered serial number. Her decision to open the trunk was consistent with her department's "plus one" rule, under which (she later testified) officers always search the trunk of a vehicle during a felony traffic stop "to make sure there's no other occupants either in the vehicle or in the trunk."

         Meanwhile, other officers brought the victims to the traffic-stop location. The victims identified Jackson and another male passenger as participants in the robbery, and officers arrested those two. Officers then searched the car's passenger compartment incident to arrest, and they found several items taken during the robbery including a wallet, a handgun, and a victim's driver's license. They also found the stolen iPhone that led to the quick apprehension.

         The State charged Jackson with burglary of a dwelling, aggravated assault, marijuana possession, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and four counts of armed robbery.

         Jackson, who represented himself at trial, adopted his co-defendant's two motions to suppress. The first motion sought to suppress the evidence found in the trunk before the show-up identification. The second motion sought to suppress the evidence found in the passenger compartment during the search incident to arrest.

         The court granted the first motion saying it was "not convinced that [the plus-one] rule actually exists" and that it was "ludicrous" for officers to believe there could have been someone hiding in the trunk. The court also explicitly rejected the State's argument that the evidence should nevertheless be admitted under the inevitable-discovery exception, stating that "without the evidence from the trunk, there was no basis to detain the individuals and the show-up might never have occurred." After this ruling, the State moved to dismiss the charges for marijuana possession and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number.

         But in a later hearing on the second motion to suppress, the court concluded police were justified in detaining Jackson for the show-up and that "the show-up lineup would have occurred irrespective of whether the property in the trunk ...


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