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160150 - People v Anthony Michael Owen

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Jerrold Schrotenboer

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Ionia– Sykes, R.)

 

Anthony Michael Owen,

 

Edward Sternisha

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

A sheriff’s deputy conducted a traffic stop after the defendant drove 43 mph through what the deputy believed to be a 25-mph speed zone.  During the stop, the deputy discovered evidence that led to the defendant’s arrest for operating while intoxicated and carrying a concealed pistol while under the influence of alcohol.  The defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop and to dismiss the case, arguing that because the speed limit was actually 55 mph, there was no lawful basis for the traffic stop.  The district court found the controlling speed limit to be 55 mph and granted the defendant’s motion to suppress.  The circuit court affirmed the district court’s speed-limit finding, but reversed its suppression ruling after concluding that the deputy had made a reasonable mistake of law regarding the applicable speed limit.  After unsuccessfully seeking leave to pursue an interlocutory appeal to the Court of Appeals, the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to the two charged misdemeanors that preserved his ability to pursue the suppression issue on appeal.  The circuit court denied the defendant’s subsequent application for leave to appeal.  In its initial review of the case, the Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of merit, but the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration as on leave granted.  On remand, the Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion holding that the traffic stop was unlawful because the deputy’s mistaken belief that the speed limit was 25 mph lacked objective reasonableness.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address whether the arresting deputy made an objectively reasonable mistake of law regarding the applicable speed limit that justified the traffic stop of the defendant’s vehicle.  See Heien v North Carolina, 574 US 54 (2014).​