Thomas Frazier v. Commonwealth, KSC, 8/29/2013, published—
The Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Frazier’s conviction for criminal littering, but affirmed each of the other convictions. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals held there were reasonable grounds for the stop of Mr. Frazier’s vehicle, that ordering Mr. Frazier from his vehicle and subsequently frisking him were appropriate actions, and that the search of his vehicle following his arrest was permissible under Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009).
The KSC reversed and remanded, holding that the Terry frisk was unconstitutional where police officers articulated insufficient facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that Frazier was armed and dangerous. The Court held that even if the officers had sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify the frisk, the search into Mr. Frazier’s pants pocket exceeded the scope of the Terry frisk because the contents in Mr. Frazier’s pocket were not immediately identifiable as contraband. Since the pat down search that led to Mr. Frazier’s arrest was unconstitutional, the Court therefore concluded that the vehicle search incident to the unlawful arrest was also unlawful.
Mr. Frazier represented himself at the trial court and Thomas Ransdell/Kate Benward represented Mr. Frazier on appeal.