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State v. Alvarado

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

January 15, 2015

STATE OF MAINE
v.
CLEMENTE ALVARADO, Defendant

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

Nancy Mills Justice

Heating on defendant's motion to suppress was held January 13, 2015. Defendant argues his due process rights were violated and his statements were not voluntary. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

FACTS

Brunswick Police Department Detective Kenneth Bailey has served as School Resource Officer for Brunswick High School for ten years. On 5/14/14, Amanda Faith appeared at Detective Bailey's office with a friend and asked to speak to him.

During his investigation of the allegations, Detective Bailey took notes when speaking to people and maintained an ongoing report on his computer. Detective Bailey was unable to contact defendant for more than one month because defendant was out of the state for work. Detective Bailey finally contacted defendant by phone and said allegations had been made that should be discussed. Defendant agreed to go to the police station to speak to Detective Bailey.

On July 1, 2014, a few days after the phone conversation, defendant arrived alone at the police station just before 5:00 p.m. Detective Bailey and defendant spoke in the main lobby. Detective Bailey was in plain clothes. He did not recall whether he had a weapon. He asked if defendant wanted to go to an interview room and defendant replied, "sure." They went to the interview room, which measures a few feet wide by a few feet long. When Detective Bailey closed the door, he told defendant the door was closed only for privacy and defendant was free to leave. The two sat approximately three feet from each other. Although the Brunswick Police Department has the capacity to record interviews, this interview was not recorded.

Detective Bailey told defendant Amanda had made allegations regarding inappropriate conduct at a bowling alley, and the Detective wanted to talk about the allegations. Detective Bailey read the Miranda warnings from the Brunswick Police Department sheet. (State's Ex. A.) Defendant understood his rights and Detective Bailey checked the boxes on the sheet, indicating defendant replied "yes" when asked if he understood each paragraph. Defendant agreed to speak to Detective Bailey and signed the sheet, as did Detective Bailey.

The conversation lasted ten to fifteen minutes. Detective Bailey asked what happened. He then asked if defendant would prepare a written statement. The Detective stated the statement did not have to be written at that time and defendant could take the form with him. Defendant said he would be in contact when the statement was completed. When the statement was not returned, Detective Bailey called defendant. Defendant said he did not have time but he would complete the statement. Detective Bailey never received the written statement.

Detective Bailey called defendant again and asked him to go to the police station. At the station, Detective Bailey said he had enough information and summonsed defendant.

Throughout the entirety of his dealings with defendant, Detective Bailey believed defendant understood what the Detective was saying. Defendant's demeanor was "perfectly fine" and he showed no adverse emotions. There was no indication defendant did not want to speak or felt pressured to say anything. Defendant understood his Miranda rights and agreed to waive them.

CONCLUSIONS

Voluntariness

Defendant argues his statements were not voluntary. In order to find a statement voluntary, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the statement resulted from the "defendant's exercise of his own free will and rational intellect." State v. Caouette, 446 A.2d 1120, 1123-24 (Me. 1982). "A confession is voluntary if it results from the free choice of a rational mind, if it is not a product of coercive police conduct, and if under all the circumstances its admission would be fundamentally fair." State v. Mikulewicz, 462 A.2d 497, 501 (Me. 1983). The requirement that a statement must be voluntary in order to be admissible "gives effect to three overlapping but conceptually distinct values: (1) it discourages objectionable police practices; (2) it protects the mental freedom of the individual; and (3) it preserves a quality of fundamental fairness in the criminal justice system." Id. at 500.

Although the interview was not recorded, the testimony of Detective Bailey was credible with regard to his interaction with defendant. There was no coercion. Defendant understood what was happening and what was said, waived his Miranda warnings, and chose how to proceed. On this record, based on the totality of the circumstances, the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's statements were voluntary. See State v. Sawyer, 2001 ME 88, ¶ 9, 772 A.2d 1173.

Due Process

Defendant also argues his right to due process was somehow violated but did not articulate any basis for that argument. Defendant agreed his waiver of his Miranda rights was valid. When a violation of die right to due process is argued, the procedures used by the police are reviewed "to determine if the conduct 'offends the community's sense of justice, decency, and fair play.'" State v. Bavouset, 2001 ME 141, ¶ 7, 784 A.2d 27 (quoting Roberts v. State, 48 F.3d 1287, 1291 (1st Cir. 1995)). A determination of whether state action violates a defendant's right to due process involves consideration of "(1) the private interest that will be affected by the State's action; (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that private interest along with the probable utility of substitute or added safeguards; and (3) the government's interest in adhering to the existent procedure." State v. Cote, 1999 ME 123, ¶ 12, 736 A.2d 262. There is no evidence in this case of any violation of defendant's right to due process.

The entry is

The Defendant's Motion to Suppress is DENIED.


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