ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS
8, 2016, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Complaint
for Lack of Probable Cause. A hearing on the Defendant's
motion was held before the Court on August 29, 2016. At the
hearing testimony was presented by MDEA agents Jason Pease
and Walter Corey. The Court also received evidence consisting
of two photographs of the Defendant's premises, and an
audio recording of the events leading to the Defendant's
arrest on the pending charge.
purposes of evaluating the pending motion, the Court makes
the following findings based on the evidence presented.
about March 8, 2016, officers Pease and Corey went to 10 Pond
Rd. in Searsport for the purpose of locating the Defendant,
Haden Campbell. The officers had two purposes in making
contact with Mr. Campbell that day: first to serve the
Defendant with a summons in regard to a charge alleging
criminal conspiracy in the unlawful trafficking of oxycodone;
and second to talk with the Defendant regarding that same
officers did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant at
any time during the course of the encounters with the
Defendant on March 8, 2016, The home at 10 Pond Rd. was a
mobile home with an attached sunporch/mudroom. Upon arrival,
the officers observed a vehicle parked outside the mobile
home, and heard movement inside the mobile home. It was
reasonable for the officers to believe that someone was
inside the mobile home.
several minutes, Officer Pease knocked on the door to the
sunporch/mudroom without any response from anyone inside the
mobile home. Officer Corey then opened the sunporch/mudroom
door, entered into the sunporch/mudroom and knocked on the
inner door to the mobile home itself. The inner door could be
seen easily from the exterior sunporch/mudroom door a short
distance away. Soon after officer Corey knocked on the inner
door, the Defendant opened the door and stepped into the
sunporch/mudroom where the officers were.
Defendant was angry and upset at being awoken and confronted
by the two officers. The two officers identified themselves
as Maine drug enforcement agents. The officers also indicated
they wanted to speak with the Defendant and that they had
paperwork for the Defendant regarding a charge against him.
The Defendant expressed his reluctance to speak with the
officers or engage with them as requested. The officer then
advised the Defendant he was going to be arrested for the
underlying charge for which the officers had intended to
issue a summons.
scuffle then ensued between the Defendant and the officers
which led to the pending charge of Refusing to Submit to
Arrest in this matter.
Defendant contends that dismissal of the pending Complaint is
warranted because the alleged criminal conduct relating to
refusing to submit to arrest flowed from what the Defendant
argues was the officers' warrantless and unauthorized
entry into the Defendant's home. The constitutionally
protected rights prohibiting entry into one's home has
long been recognized under both the United States and State
of Maine Constitutions. The issue presented by the pending
motion is whether the officer's conduct in entering into
the sunporch/mudroom in the circumstances of this case
constituted an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth
Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.
Court in State v. Trusiani, 2004 ME 107, ¶
15, addressed this issue and noted, in part,
although the curtilage of the home is protected from
unreasonable entries and searches and the dwelling itself may
not be entered, absent a warrant or exigent circumstances,
the state is allowed to intrude into the homes cartilage
under certain circumstances, including accessing the entry to
a dwelling while conducting legitimate law enforcement
Court in Trusiani went on to note at length, the
decision rendered by the North Dakota Supreme Court in
State v. Kitchen, 1997 ND 241, 572 N.W.2d 106, which
presented facts and issues strikingly similar to the ones
presented in this pending motion. The court in
Kitchen, although noting a defendant's
reasonable expectation of privacy in the entry way to their
home, went on to hold that, "police, at times, may enter
areas where a person may have a reasonable expectation of
privacy. . . . police with legitimate business may enter
certain areas surrounding a home where persons may have a
reasonable expectation of privacy, such as curtilage, but
which are impliedly open to use by the public."
Kitchen at 110.
Kitchen court also went on, at some length,
discussing the Maine Law Court decision in State v.
Crider, 341 A.2d I (Me, 1975) which addressed the
appropriateness of a police officer's entry into a home
passing through an outer door to access an inner door.
Although distinguishing the facts in Crider, the
Kitchen court in examining the officer's
behavior noted the following factors: that the police
officers were on legitimate business, that the police
officers waited a reasonable time before entering the outer
door to knock at the inner door, that the officers had
reasonable grounds to believe that the person they sought was
at the home, and that the entryway could be viewed as
impliedly open to use by the general public.
Court concludes that the facts and circumstances associated
with the March 8, 2016 engagement between the Defendant and
the officers in the sunporch/mudroom at 10 Pond Rd. was more
akin to the facts presented in the Kitchen case as
opposed to the Crider case. Specifically, the Court
finds that the officers behavior ...