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State v. Thompson

Supreme Court of Maine

January 19, 2017


          Argued: February 10, 2016

          Jamesa J. Drake, Esq. (orally), Drake Law, LLC, Auburn, for appellant David Thompson

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Leanne Robbin, Asst. Atty. Gen., (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine


          HJELM, J.

         [¶1] After David L. Thompson was charged with three drug-related crimes, he moved to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant. Included in his motion was a request for the court to hold a Franks hearing[1] to allow him to challenge the truthfulness of the statements in the affidavit supporting the warrant application. To determine whether Thompson was entitled to a Franks hearing, the trial court (Oxford County, Clifford, J.) held a hearing where the State examined the affiant, who was a law enforcement officer involved in the investigation. During the course of the State's direct examination, the court stated that, based on its review of the affidavit and the officer's partial testimony, it determined that Thompson had not made a sufficient showing to warrant a full Franks hearing, and denied his request. The court also rejected Thompson's assertion that the warrant was not supported by probable cause. Thompson entered conditional guilty pleas to all charges. On this appeal, we affirm the court's order denying that part of Thompson's motion challenging probable cause. We conclude, however, that the hearing conducted by the court must be treated as the beginning of a Franks hearing. We therefore vacate the judgment and remand for the court to hold a full hearing.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Maine Drug Enforcement Special Agent Tony L. Milligan was involved in an investigation into the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. In February 2014, Milligan submitted a consolidated application seeking search warrants for four residences, including Thompson's residence in Gilead, which he shared with his son, Mico Thompson.[2] The fifty-page affidavit supporting the application describes conduct and circumstances involving Thompson, Mico Thompson, and six other people allegedly involved in illegal drug activity.

         [¶3] The affidavit contains the following information concerning Thompson. Three unnamed people ("sources of information" or "SOI") told Milligan that Thompson was involved in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. SOI #1 previously provided the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency with drug trafficking information that was independently confirmed. Amanda Thompson, who is Thompson's daughter and herself makes methamphetamine, told SOI #1 that Thompson and her brother, Mico, were involved in producing methamphetamine in the basement of Thompson's Gilead residence. The affidavit made reference to an audio-recorded controlled purchase of methamphetamine by SOI #1 from a third person, who was also a subject of the warrant application. Milligan stated in the affidavit that during the transaction, the third person "indicated to SOI #1 that he was the main distributor for AMANDA THOMPSON . . . and of his association with others ... that are also making and selling methamphetamine- ... [including] MICO THOMPSON and his father in Gilead."

         [¶4] As recited in Milligan's affidavit, two other SOIs also reported that Mico Thompson's father, whose name they did not know, was involved in the production of methamphetamine. SOI #3, who had provided truthful information to law enforcement in the past, stated that methamphetamine was being produced in Mico Thompson's father's basement, although the affidavit does not describe the underlying basis for the information. SOI #4 is a "concerned citizen" who provided information about the production and trafficking of methamphetamine to assist law enforcement, and acquired information about Thompson's involvement in methamphetamine production through conversations with a co-worker who is "a regular methamphetamine customer." SOI #4 reported other details, including Thompson's use of the "shake and bake" production method, his willingness to trade methamphetamine for commercial ingredients used in the production process, and his place of employment.

         [¶5] Through the investigation, Milligan learned that Mico Thompson's father's name is David Thompson and, by happenstance, subsequently saw Thompson at a local business. Milligan followed Thompson and saw him meet Amanda Thompson's boyfriend. Milligan made "observations [that] were consistent with that of an apparent drug transaction" between the two.

         [¶6] The warrant applications were granted in early February 2014 by a District Court judge [Carlson, /.), serving as the reviewing magistrate, and several days later police executed the warrant and conducted the search. Thompson was subsequently charged by criminal complaint and, in April 2014, by indictment for two counts of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(B)(1) (2015), [3] and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §§ 151(1)(B), 1105-A(1)(B)(1) (2015). Thompson pleaded not guilty.

         [¶7] Thompson filed a motion for sanctions based on allegations of discovery violations by the State. See M.R. Crim. P. 16(d).[4] In the motion, Thompson sought dismissal of the charges or a court order prohibiting the State from presenting certain evidence. The court ultimately denied the motion summarily.

         [¶8] Thompson also filed a motion to suppress evidence, asserting that the information in the warrant affidavit was not sufficient to support a finding of probable cause and that the affidavit included intentional or knowing misstatements or misstatements made in reckless disregard of their truth. Based on the latter ground, Thompson requested that the court hold a testimonial Franks hearing. He later filed a "supplemental motion" that elaborated on his allegations that the warrant affidavit contained misstatements. In response, the State filed a "[consolidated [m]otion" to deny the motion to suppress and the request for a Franks hearing.

         [¶9] In January 2015, over objections of both parties, the court held a testimonial hearing associated with Thompson's suppression motion.[5] At the beginning of the hearing, the court stated that it wanted to hear testimony from Milligan, and that the purpose of the hearing was for the presentation of evidence that would allow it to determine whether Thompson was entitled to a Franks hearing:

And the reason I'm doing this, I think... the most efficient way for me to get a grasp as to whether or not there was an entitlement to a Franks hearing is to listen to the affiant go through the affidavit to point out the information on which he ...

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