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Appeals court tosses drug conviction against Michigan man

Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

WAUKESHA, WI (WTAQ) - A Wisconsin appeals court has thrown out a drug dealing conviction against a Michigan man, saying police improperly stopped a car where the evidence was found.  

An East Troy officer stopped 44-year-old Richard Houghton Jr. in 2012, because he didn't have a front license plate -- and an air freshener and a GPS unit obstructed views through his windshield.

During the traffic stop, the officer found marijuana and a scale -- and Houghton was charged with a felony count of possessing pot with the intent to deliver.  

In Walworth County Circuit Court, Houghton argued that the marijuana evidence was obtained illegally because the traffic stop was improper -- and it was okay not to have a front license plate, because his home state of Michigan doesn't require one.  

Circuit Judge John Race said the traffic stop was justified because the officer shouldn't have to know which states don't require front plates. Houghton pleaded guilty and then appealed.  

State prosecutors told the Second District Appellate court that the officer was wrong to stop him because of the license plate -- but prosecutors still claimed the air freshener and the GPS unit illegally caused obstructions to the driver.  

The appellate judges rejected those arguments this week.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)

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