In 2006, Sergeant Greg Goodman and Detective Steve Compston, both of the Gulfport Police Department, were conducting traffic stops in Gulfport, Mississippi. Goodman noticed a truck turning without using a turn signal. Compston pulled the truck over to the side of the road.
The driver, Gary Glidden, exited the truck and walked to the rear of the vehicle. Goodman walked to the passenger side door and peered in the window to check for any other occupant. Goodman immediately saw a large plastic bag on the driver’s side floorboard containing what Goodman believed was marijuana.
Goodman testified that approximately an inch of the bag was under the driver’s seat, but the bag was in plain view. Compston arrested the driver of the truck. The bag contained 450 grams of marijuana.
The truck was registered in the name of Joseph Buckner. Glidden advised that he had borrowed Buckner’s truck for approximately 30 minutes and did not notice the large plastic bag of marijuana on the driver’s side floorboard.
Glidden was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and sentenced to four years as a habitual offender. On appeal, he argued there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. MCOA affirmed.
In Curry v. State, 249 So. 2d 414 (Miss. 1971), the MSC said for constructive possession there must be sufficient facts to warrant a finding that the defendant was aware of the presence and character of the particular substance and was intentionally and consciously in possession of it.
Constructive possession may be shown by establishing that the drugs involved were subject to his dominion or control. Proximity is usually an essential element, but by itself is not adequate in the absence of other incriminating circumstances.
In Gavin, we said the following: Being in a closed area such as a vehicle or a room with contraband does not by itself permit the inference of dominion and control. If the accused is the owner of the premises, or if he is the exclusive user for some extended period of time, or if there are additional incriminating circumstances, then the inferences might be permissible.
The evidence did show that Glidden was not the owner of the truck. However, Glidden had been driving the truck for approximately thirty minutes with a large bag of marijuana directly under his feet. According to the testimony of both Compston and Goodman, the clear plastic bag was on the driver’s side floorboard and was immediately visible through the truck window.
Glidden admitted that the truck was small and that a bag that large would have been easily seen by him. From the evidence presented, reasonable jurors could have concluded that Glidden was guilty of possession of a controlled substance. This issue lacks merit.
The MSC heard this case in 2011 and affirmed by a plurality decision. Here was their conclusion:
This was a classic jury case – Glidden’s testimony versus the State’s testimony and supporting evidence, i.e., the photographs of the bag of marihuana in the location where police officers testified the marihuana was found at the time they stopped the truck Glidden was driving. Unfortunately for Glidden, the jury resolved these issues adversely to him. But the jury verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence such that, based on our standard of review, it is beyond the power and authority of this court to disturb on appeal.
Since I felt the MCOA case provided more analysis of the constructive possession issue, I decided to leave the MCOA decision in place. However, the MSC decision is hyperlinked below along with the MCOA decision.