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Sapp v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

September 23, 2016

BARRY BERNARD SAPP JR., Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court No. 3AN-13-402 CR, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Michael L. Wolverton, Judge.

          Callie Patton Kim, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

          Eric A. Ringsmuth, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge.[*]

          OPINION

          MANNHEIMER Judge.

         One morning in January 2013, Barry Bernard Sapp Jr. dropped his wife off at a downtown Anchorage office of the Alaska Department of Corrections.

         While Sapp was sitting in his car in front of the office, he was approached by a probation officer. This probation officer (who was not supervising Sapp) told him, "Mr. Sapp, I'd like you to come [into] the office for [a] conversation."

         Sapp told the probation officer, "Okay", and he began to maneuver his car as if to park it on the street near the office. But then Sapp activated the locks on his car doors. The probation officer tried fruitlessly to pull open the door handle, and then he summoned several other Corrections staff. The Corrections staff stood around Sapp's car and directed him to pull over and park the car.

         Instead, Sapp "peel[ed] out" and drove away at high speed - fishtailing, weaving through traffic, and ignoring traffic signals. He collided with another vehicle, and then he drove off without stopping.

         For these actions, Sapp was convicted of three crimes: failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. [1] In this appeal, Sapp challenges only one of these convictions: his conviction for failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer.

         Sapp concedes that the probation officer directed him to park his car and come into the Corrections office for a conversation, and that he drove away instead of complying with the probation officer's directive. But the statute Sapp was convicted of violating - AS 28.35.182 - requires proof that a driver "knowingly fail[ed] to stop as soon as [was] practical and ... reasonably safe... under the circumstances when requested or signaled to do so by a peace officer."

         Sapp argues that we should reverse his conviction for failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer because the probation officer who directed him to park his car was not a "peace officer" for purposes of this statute. As we are about to explain, we agree with Sapp for two reasons.

         The definition of "peace officer" codified in AS 01.10.060(7) governs our interpretation of AS 28.35.182, and probation officers are not "peace officers" under that definition

         AS 01.10.060 contains various definitions that apply throughout all "the laws of [this] state" - in other words, throughout all of the Alaska Statutes - "unless ...


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