Judge refuses to toss DUI case involving Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy
A 45-minute delay in the arrest of a Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy on DUI charges might have been unusual. But it was not a violation of her constitutional rights, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Anne Frances Dunne was pulled over by Grass Valley Police Officer Paul McCallum on Nov. 30, 2019, and was subsequently charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and misdemeanor DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more.
Attorney Stephen Munkelt asked visiting Superior Court Judge Arvid Johnson to suppress the evidence and dismiss the charges, claiming the delay in detention violated Dunne’s constitutional right to liberty.
During the hearing, McCallum testified he was clearing a different traffic stop on Highway 49 at 12:18 a.m. when he saw a Toyota cross over the double yellow lines on the highway. As he followed the car, he said, he saw it driving erratically — not maintaining her lane, swerving and crossing the fog line.
After he stopped the car, McCallum said, he recognized Dunne “immediately” from having worked with her.
Dunne’s eyes were red and watery and she smelled of alcohol, McCallum testified. Dunne told him she had been drinking in Nevada City but had felt she was safe to drive.
According to McCallum, because she was a fellow law enforcement officer, he began trying to contact someone up the chain of command. Eventually it was determined Grass Valley had no conflict of interest and he asked Dunne to step out of the car and began field sobriety tests.
After he completed the testing, McCallum said, he believed Dunne was under the influence and arrested her.
On cross-examination, McCallum testified that a supervisor, Cpl. Galen Spittler, arrived at the scene 21 minutes after he pulled Dunne over. Spittler told Dunne there were some policy issues causing the delay and asked her to be patient. McCallum began the field sobriety tests 16 minutes after Spittler arrived, and placed Dunne under arrest about 8 minutes later.
According to McCallum, the department policy for that situation, involving a law enforcement officer within the community, was for him to call “up the chain of command.”
“I didn’t know what the process was, who had to be there,” he said, refuting a suggestion that he was unsure whether he could arrest another officer.
Deputy District Attorney Taylor Balonon argued the length of time taken by McCallum to ensure he was handling the arrest correctly was not unreasonable, adding “It was not an unduly prolonged detention.”
Munkelt, however, said the decision to treat the arrest with caution resulted in a lack of diligence.
“If someone is stopped for suspicion of DUI, the officer has an obligation to investigate,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who they are.”
The judge, however, said he found McCallum’s actions reasonable under the circumstances.
“This is an unusual case,” Johnson said. “I am perturbed it took as long as it did to get a supervisor there. That bothers me. I just don’t think it was a long enough time that her constitutional rights were violated.”
Dunne will return to court on Feb. 24 for a pre-trial conference.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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