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Oregon Court of Appeals Rules Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Satisfied Uniform Trial Court Rule 4.060(1)

The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s order, striking a defendant’s motion to suppress for failure to comply with a court rule.

Uniform Trial Court Rule (“UTCR”) 4.060(1) mandates that a motion to suppress evidence must: (1) cite any constitutional provision, statute, rule, case, or other authority upon which it is based, and (2) include the moving party’s brief, which sufficiently apprises the court and adverse party of the argument relied upon.

Nathan Oxford was charged with several firearm and drug offenses. Pursuant to Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, he filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search. Citing State v. Miller,524 P.2d 1399 (Or. 1974), Oxford argued that he had been subject to a warrantless search and seizure, which was “per se unreasonable,” and the “state has the burden to prove otherwise.” Oxford filed a supporting brief, citing Article I, section 9, and Miller as supporting authority.

At a hearing on the motion, the trial court noted that the prosecution had not moved to strike and apparently had no intention of doing so. The court then issued a sua sponteorder striking Oxford’s motion to suppress for failing to comply with UTCR 4.060(1). “As far as the Court is concerned, what you filed in this case is not sufficient,” the judge declared. The motion failed to “adequately apprise the Court as to what the issues are.” Oxford was then convicted.

The Court of Appeals reversed the order striking Oxford’s motion to suppress. “Here, as required by UTCR 4.060(l), defendant’s motion cited authority on which defendant relied, specifically, Article I, section 9, and Miller. It apprised the court and the state that defendant challenged specific searches and seizures,” the Court found. “The motion set forth defendant’s position that the searches and seizures had been warrantless and that ‘warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable.’ And it laid out the evidence that defendant sought to have suppressed.”

The appellate court instructed that UTCR 4.060(1) “contains no requirement that a suppression motion contain detailed factual arguments.” As long as a motion satisfies the unambiguous requirements enumerated in UTCR 4.060(1), it is sufficient to entitle the defendant “to have his suppression motion considered on the merits” and shift the burden of proving the legality of the search to the prosecution.

The Court concluded that the trial court erred in striking Oxford’s motion for failure to comply with UTCR 4.060(1). Accordingly, it reversed and remanded. See: State v. Oxford, 287 Ore. App. 580 (2017). 

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