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State of Alaska v. John S. Amend

March 11, 2011

STATE OF ALASKA,
PETITIONER,
v.
JOHN S. AMEND, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Kenai, Carl Bauman, Judge.Trial Court No. 3KN-08-671 CR

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bolger, Judge.

NOTICE

The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts. 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Fax: (907) 264-0878 E-mail: corrections at appellate.courts.state.ak.us

Before: Coats, Chief Judge, and Mannheimer and Bolger, Judges.

OPINION

John Amend was stopped outside a convenience store for shoplifting. Immediately after he was stopped, Amend admitted to the crime. The police officer then handcuffed Amend and advised him of his Miranda rights. Amend waived his rights and agreed to continue speaking to the officer at the scene; he also agreed to let the officer search the pockets of his clothing.

When the officer searched Amend, he discovered some stolen food items and several OxyContin tablets. When Amend was asked about the tablets, he told the officer that he intended to sell them.

Amend filed a pretrial motion seeking suppression of his statements to the police. Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman ruled that Amend's statements should be suppressed because (1) the officer failed to remind Amend of his Miranda rights in light of the potential felony drug charges and (2) the officer should have recorded the ensuing conversation.

We conclude that the officer was not required to make an audio recording because the interrogation took place in the field and not in a place of detention. We conclude that there was no need for the officer to remind Amend about his Miranda rights before he began questioning Amend about the OxyContin because Amend could readily understand the purpose of the officer's questions and the potential adverse consequences of answering those questions.

Background

Kenai Police Officer Aaron Turnage was dispatched to the Holiday convenience store in Kenai in response to a shoplifting report. The dispatch indicated that the shoplifter was an adult male wearing a checkered coat and welding glasses. Turnage saw a man matching the description and pulled into a nearby parking lot. Turnage called to the man and, when he turned around, Turnage recognized him as Amend.

Turnage asked Amend about the shoplifting, and Amend immediately admitted that he had stolen food from the store. Turnage handcuffed Amend and gave Amend standard Miranda warnings. Amend stated that he understood his rights and agreed to speak with Turnage.

Turnage asked Amend for consent to search his pockets and Amend agreed. Inside Amend's jacket were five burritos and two boxes of cookies. Turnage then found seventeen-and-a-half OxyContin tablets in Amend's pants pocket.

According to Turnage, Amend said he was released from jail earlier in the day, but had no money. After his release he went to Ninilchik to obtain the tablets. Amend stated that he was selling the tablets ...


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