Bad stop claim reset for Aug. 10

Friday, July 24, 2009

The continuing case of alleged driving under the influence by a Marshall County school board member has been rescheduled for Aug. 10 when attorneys are to argue whether there were "specific and articulable" reasons for the sheriff's deputy to stop the elected official's white Cadillac.

Marshall County school board member Mark Wilkerson, 43, of Chapel Hill, was in Circuit Court on Wednesday when Judge Robert Crigler reset the date for arguments by Wilkerson's attorney, Walter Bussart, and Assistant District Attorney Kate Lavery in connection with Wilkerson's arrest by Deputy Tony Nichols on U.S. Highway 431.

Nearly eight months have passed since the deputy alleged that Wilkerson was driving erratically on State Route 50 and U.S. 431, public records show. After performing a traffic stop, Nichols concluded that Wilkerson "performed poorly" on field sobriety tests.

Bussart has filed a motion to dismiss the DUI charge and a charge alleging violation of the implied consent law since, as Nichols' alleges, Wilkerson refused to permit a blood alcohol test conducted. The motion is among nearly a dozen motions and memorandums in Wilkerson's case file.

Virtualy all of the motions and memos to the court go to a basic claim that the deputy did not have reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop, according to a review of the Wilkerson's case file.

Prior to a DUI stop, or other such traffic stops, a law enforcement officer should have "specific and articulable" facts to establish reasonable suspicion before a traffic stop is made.

The state, represented by Lavery has contended in General Sessions Court that Nichols had reasonable suspicion to justify stopping the white Cadillac driven by Wilkerson.