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Police had reasonable suspicion to detain person to investigate possible pot possession

State v. John C. Martin, 2015AP597-CR, District 2, 9/30/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Police searched a tavern bathroom for a person named in an arrest warrant; they found no one, but they did notice a strong odor of raw marijuana. Martin was the last person seen leaving the bathroom. Ergo, the police had reasonable suspicion to detain Martin and investigate whether he had drugs on him.

¶5    …[T]he police had reasonable suspicion so as to justify the brief detention of Martin. [Officer] Franklin’s detection of the odor of marijuana in the bathroom, which [Officer] Pierce confirmed, gave the police reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime had been or was being committed. State v. Secrist, 224 Wis. 2d 201, 218-219, 589 N.W.2d 387 (1999) (strong odor of marijuana coming from where the driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was seated gave police officer probable cause to believe he had committed a crime). Further, the police had reasonable suspicion to believe that Martin had committed or was committing that crime. He was the last person seen leaving the bathroom before Franklin first smelled the odor of marijuana, and no one else was seen entering or exiting it in the succeeding time period. Thus, this is not, as Martin contends, akin to a situation in which a defendant is simply one of many in an area suspected of criminal activity. Rather, under these circumstances, where Franklin was “able to link the unmistakable odor of marijuana … to a specific person,” the police had reasonable suspicion to briefly detain Martin. Id. at 216-217; see State v. Chase A.T., No. 2014AP260, unpublished slip op. ¶¶26-27 (WI App. Sept. 4, 2014).

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