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Multiple challenges to OAR conviction rejected

State v. Robert C. Blankenheim, 2015AP239-CR, District 2, 7/8/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Blankenheim’s challenges his OAR conviction by arguing that he was unlawfully stopped, that the evidence wasn’t sufficient to prove operation on a highway, and that the police officer wasn’t a credible witness. The court of appeals disagrees “on all points….” (¶1).

Blankenheim forfeited the suppression issue by not adequately raising it in the circuit court. “At the trial, Blankenheim made no attempt to have the circuit court rule that evidence should be suppressed. Indeed, at no time during the trial did Blankenheim mention suppression or complain that the circuit court failed to address the issue.” (¶15). Even if the issue wasn’t forfeited, suppression wouldn’t be appropriate because: 1) Blankenship wasn’t seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment; and 2) if he was seized, the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe there was a registration problem with the vehicle Blankenship was in. (¶¶16-20).

As to the sufficiency claim: No witness saw Blankenship driving, but the evidence showed the officer was dispatched to a driveway where he found an idling car. Blankenship was behind the wheel. Kassouf, who  lived at the home where the car was parked and was in the car, testified Blankenheim had come to visit him. Blankenheim’s evasive responses to the officer’s questions about his license status and how he’d gotten to Kassouf’s house showed consciousness of guilt. (¶¶3-12, 25-26). “There is more than ample evidence to support the circuit court’s finding that Blankenheim had driven his vehicle on a state highway to get to Kassouf’s house. The inference to this effect was reasonable and clear.” (¶26).

Finally, the attack on the officer’s credibility fails on the usual grounds: the court of appeals defers to the circuit court’s finding and doesn’t reweigh the evidence. (¶¶21-24).

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