Tag: Choctaw County

Case Dismissed

Possession of Drugs After Former Convictions of Two Felonies [Choctaw County, OK]

Criminal Charge: Possession of CDS after former conviction of two felonies
Case: State v. Shellie Coffman
Court: [CF-08-20, Choctaw County]
Result: Case Dismissed
Docket View: Oklahoma State Courts Network


Ms. Coffman was the passenger in a car stopped at a roadblock. A Hugo police officer claimed he found a tin foil of crack cocaine in the floorboard by her seat, so he arrested her, searched her and claimed he found more cocaine in her jacket. She was charged with possession, and because she had two former felony convictions the new charge subjected her to a sentencing range of 6 years to life in the penitentiary.

Haslam moved to suppress the search of both the vehicle and Coffman because the officer illegally detained the vehicle longer than necessary to effect the purposes of the roadblock [license, insurance and equipment checks] and because her arrest was not supported by probable cause.

Traffic stops are the subject of a great deal of law. Oklahoma roadblocks are particularly closely watched by the courts because there is no probable cause supporting the stop. In Lookingbill v. State [2007 OK CR 7], the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set strict new rules for this kind of stop. Specifically, it explained law enforcement simply cannot detain cars longer than necessary to effect the purpose of the roadblock, and that purpose must be clearly determined by officials before the roadblock is begun.

Here, the trial judge proceeded cautiously because Ms. Coffman was not the driver of the car and therefore might not have “standing” to object to the way the roadblock was handled. However, Haslam brought a new U.S. Supreme Court case, Brendlin v. California, to the attention of the Court, a case which recently, finally accorded passengers the right to object to the unlawful search of a vehicle.

The judge suppressed the fruits of this illegal arrest and search and dismissed the case.

Case Dismissed

Second Degree Burglary [Choctaw County, OK]

Criminal Charge: Second Degree Burglary
Case: State v. Kristopher Minter
Court: [CF-07-106, Choctaw County]
Result: Case Dismissed
Docket View:  See the digital docket sheet reflecting Kris’s dismissed felony charge


Based on the alleged tip of an alleged accomplice, Hugo PD went to Kris’s home to question him about his involvement in a home burglary in which several household items were taken.

When the officers arrived, however, no one was home. Instead, the police contended the front and back doors to the home were ajar. The officers justifed searching Kris’s home without a warrant by saying they went inside to satisfy themselves that no one was burglarizing HIS home. Of course, the police contended they recovered some of the household items alleged to have been stolen while they were securing Kris’s home and charged him with the burglary. When Kris’s mother arrived on the scene, the police obtained permission from her to search the house…..

Haslam moved to suppress the search under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and cited the many, many cases on the books that outline the police’s authority to make warrantless entry of a home in such a situation. At the evidentiary hearing on the motion, the officer admitted there was no alarm, no complaining neighbor, no indication of movement indoors, no reason he could not simply secure the premises and obtain a warrant, and no evidence of a break-in. He argued the so-called consent obtained AFTER the search was insufficient to “purge the taint” of the original lawless search.

The court sustained the motion to suppress and dismissed the charges against Kris.


Civil Rights Action for Unreasonable Use of Force [Choctaw County, OK]

Action: Civil Rights Action Against Choctaw County Law Enforcement for Unreasonable Use of Force
Case: Booth, et al v. Ben Milner, et al [CIV 09-396-SPS]
Court: Eastern District of Oklahoma [Muskogee]
Result: Case settled for money damages and Choctaw County deputy convicted in federal court


Choctaw County Sheriff Deputy Ben Milner and six other law enforcement officers stormed the Choctaw County Jail one night because inmates allegedly flooded a cell by stuffing a roll of toilet paper in the commode. Milner ordered all four plaintiffs face down on the floor of the flooded cell, entered with an axe handle and beat them on the back.

Haslam sued the officers, the county and various other governmental entities for violating the plaintiffs’ civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. 1983. The case was settled for money damages.

After the settlement, Haslam worked with the FBI and prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Milner criminally. Milner was convicted of several crimes by a jury in federal court and imprisoned.