Mitchell v. State: Turn Signals Not Required

9 02 2012

I’ll start with the good news today from the Court of Appeals.  They made an obvious reversal in James v. State, which was the first reversal by the Court of Appeals this year.  The police, based on a tip by a confidential informant, pull up to Appellant’s vehicle and block her in to investigate the vehicle for drugs.  The police immediately informed Appellant of why they were there and asked if there were any drugs.  Appellant indicated there were drugs.   It was undisputed that the officers had not given her Miranda warnings; therefore, the only question is whether she was “free to leave.”  Obviously not.  It is unbelievable that the trial court found the statements admissible in this situation.  Hopefully, this win for the defense will start the ball rolling in their favor.  But I won’t hold my breath.

The other good news is that in Mitchell v. State the Court of Appeals held that the turn signal statute only required using the signal if other traffic may be affected.  The bad news for the day is that based on this case other traffic always might be affected.  Here, there was no traffic behind Appellant and the only traffic in front of Appellant was the officer.  The officer, in his rearview mirror, saw Appellant turn without using his signal and pulled him over.   The Court of Appeals noted that the officer and the trial judge misinterpreted the law when they determined that the law always required the use of a turn signal; however, the Court of Appeals ultimately determined that the officer might have been affected by Appellant’s failure to use the signal.  HOW???  How can you affect someone in front of you when you turn off the street?  Especially in light of the fact that the officer did not testify that the turn affected him.  Another ridiculous decision by the Court of Appeals that will hopefully get corrected by the Arkansas Supreme Court, but again I won’t hold my breath.


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