By Rosemary K. Otzman
A driver who was pulled over for exiting a gas station without stopping at Wayne Road first had been charged with a possession of narcotics offense.
But after 34th District Court Judge Brian Oakley heard all the evidence at her preliminary exam on Dec. 10, Courtney Marie Jordan walked out of the courtroom a free woman.
The only witness called by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Blair Moody was Romulus Police Officer Ryan Miller, who had been on the department four years.
He testified that at 1:53 a.m. March 20 he and Officer Seth Bond were on patrol and saw a vehicle exit the Mobil gas station at the northwest corner of Wayne Road and Goddard. The vehicle pulled out of a private drive without stopping first, so her Nissan was pulled over.
Officer Miller, who had been driving the patrol car, said there was alcohol in the vehicle and the driver said she had a drink, at about 10:30 p.m. She passed the alcohol sobriety test.
Then, Officer Miller asked if he could search her car and she consented. In her purse on the front seat police found a Newport cigarette box with blue and green tablets inside. The evidence was sent to the Michigan State Police and identified as “oxycots,” according to the lab report.
Retained defense attorney Jonathan Jones noted that Officer Miller did not write a traffic ticket for failing to stop when exiting a private drive.
Jones asked Miller what reason he had to search the vehicle and Miller replied, “None.”
Miller said it’s part of patrol operations, sometimes you do and sometimes no. You ask for permission.
“It’s a routine practice in Romulus, whether you have a reason or not?” Jones asked, and Miller said it was routine.
Jones asked Miller if he saw criminal activity and he said he didn’t. Was the defendant drunk? She wasn’t.
Prosecutor Moody asked Miller why he asked for permission to search the car and although attorney Jones said it had been asked and answered, Judge Oakley allowed the question.
Miller said it was 3 o’clock in the morning and she had left a bar where there are police activities for drug offenses.
“The police officer knows. It doesn’t hurt to ask,” Miller said.
Miller was excused from the witness stand.
“She wasn’t intoxicated and she gave her consent,” insisted Prosecutor Moody.
“To his credit, he was brutally honest when he said there was no reason to search the car,” Jones said of Miller’s testimony.
“She did consent,” Moody insisted.
Jones said because a bar has a bad reputation, could every customer leaving be submitted to a search?
“With consent,” Judge Oakley added, tongue in cheek.
“Did he need reasonable cause?” Judge Oakley asked.
“We are citizens of a free society, not living in a police state,” Jones said. “He shouldn’t have asked for consent to search.”
“I agree with you,” Judge Oakley said. “Case dismissed.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman