Kaysville City v. Mulcahy

Kaysville City v. Mulcahy, 943 P.2d 231 (Utah Ct. App. 1997) involved an informant who called a police dispatcher to report a drunk driver. Mulcahy, 943 P.2d at 233. The court addressed the question of whether the tip provided reasonable suspicion sufficient for a police officer to stop the vehicle. Id. at 234. The court "gleaned from Utah cases three factors to consider in determining the reliability and sufficiency of the informant's report." Id. at 235. The three-factor test analyzed: (1) the reliability of the informant; (2) "whether the informant gave enough detail about the observed criminal activity to support a stop," (3) "whether the police officer's personal observations confirm the [information in] the informant's tip." Id. at 236. The court of appeals found that the informant's tip passed the three-factor test and, therefore, provided sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify a stop. Id. at 238. In Kaysville City v. Mulcahy, a citizen called the police dispatch, identified himself, and reported that at 5:58 a.m. a "drunk individual" believed to be "Joe" had been at his front door and had driven away in a white car--maybe a "Toyota Celica," that the car was traveling east towards the mountains on a road fronting "Davis High School." 943 P.2d at 233. The caller gave what he believed to be Joe's phone number. Id. The dispatcher radioed a nearby police officer that an "individual believed to be drunk" was leaving the caller's address, "heading towards Davis High School in white Toyota." Id. The officer stopped a vehicle matching the description and direction, without observing any moving violations or other signs of intoxication, and following field observation and sobriety testing, arrested Joe Mulcahy for DUI. Id. The trial court granted Mulcahy's motion to suppress for lack of reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. Id. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and, after citing numerous cases upholding stops on similar information from both anonymous and identified informants. Id. at 235-36 The Utah Court of Appeals explained: "In contrast to an anonymous caller, an identified 'citizen-informant' is high on the reliability scale. The ordinary citizen-informant needs no 'independent proof of reliability or veracity.' We simply assume veracity when a citizen-informant provides information as a victim or witness of crime. 'This is because citizen informers, unlike police informers, volunteer information out of concern for the community and not for personal benefit.' " The Court of appeals noted that the inherent reliability of information volunteered by a citizen will usually be much greater than that provided by an anonymous tip or by a paid informant. As such, the necessity of corroborating observation or information is correspondingly reduced for purposes of the totality of the circumstances analysis. See id.