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State v. Stoval

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

February 24, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
LUKE STOVAL

          ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          Joyce A. Wheeler, ARJ Maine Superior Court

         Introduction

         Luke Stoval ("Stoval") has been charged by indictment with on or about July 22, 2016, in Westbrook, Operating A Motor Vehicle After Revocation, Class C, in violation of 29-A M.R.S. §2557-A(2)(C) and violating conditions of release, Class E, in violation of 15 M.R.S.§1092(1)(A). Stoval filed a motion to suppress, raising four issues arising out of the stop of his vehicle by Patrolman Dean Harmon ("Officer" or "Harmon") of the Gorham Police Department and also serving as a sworn-in Cumberland County Commissioned Officer of the Cumberland County Sheriffs Office ("CSSO") from September 9, 2014 to September 9, 2017. Stoval contends that the stop was not justified by an objectively reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct, the stop was not based on a credible "tip", the Gorham Police Officer lacked authority for an incident that occurred in Westbrook, and Stoval's admission of driving was in violation of his Miranda rights and was not voluntary.

         Facts

         On July 22, 2016, Hannon, who was familiar with Stoval through family relationships, received a phone call from Harmon's daughter's mother, Lindsay Neptune that Stoval was driving on his way back from work to his Mill Lane residence in Westbrook. Hannon knew Stoval's criminal history, knew Stoval was out on bail on pending charges, and knew that Stoval did not have a license and had several convictions for operating without a license. The vehicle that Stoval was operating was registered to Rita Butler. Rita Butler is the mother of Stoval's daughter. Butler is also the daughter of Lindsay Neptune and Officer Harmon. The "tip" about Stoval's operation of a motor vehicle was from Neptune, who was a known and credible witness. She has no criminal history and a general truthful reputation.

         Because Harmon is sworn in as a Cumberland County Commissioner Officer, [1] Harmon believes he has county wide jurisdiction. So, he drove past Stoval's Mill Lane residence in Westbrook. When he did not see Stoval's vehicle on Mill Lane, Hannon started back to Gorham. While heading back to Gorham, Hannon observed Stoval drive past him. Hannon turned on his blue lights, turned around onto Mill Lane where Stoval was pulling into his driveway. Stoval had an open beer in the car. Hannon knew that Stoval had been arrested on a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child and was on bail. Although Hannon could smell the odor of intoxicants and saw the open container, he had no other indicia that Stoval was operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Hannon instructed Stoval to exit his vehicle and that he would be arrested. Hannon called Westbrook to make the arrest because he had no handcuffs and was not driving a vehicle with a cage to transport prisoners.

         While Stoval was sitting in back of Harmon's vehicle with the door open, waiting for Westbrook police to arrive, Stoval asked why he was arrested. Hannon told him it was because he did not have a license. Stoval told Harmon, "someone else was driving." Harmon told Stoval, "that was a lie, no one else was in vehicle." Stoval responded, he "knew he didn't have a license but he had to get to work." Harmon responded to Stoval, he should not be driving with an open container. Stoval acknowledged that he knew he should not have an open container. Stoval begged Harmon to not take him to jail. Rita Butler, who was in the front yard, was also yelling at Harmon to not arrest Stoval. [2] Harmon did not confirm Stoval's motor vehicle history prior to the arrest. He relied on information from Lindsay Neptune, the source of Harmon's tip, and Harmon's personal knowledge and observations of Stoval's driving.

         Discussion

         1. Jurisdiction

         Stoval argues that Harmon, a Gorham police officer, did not have lawful jurisdiction to stop him for a criminal violation that occurred in Westbrook. Hannon was not pursuing Stoval in fresh pursuit from Gorham to Westbrook. Accordingly, Stoval argues, "No police officer has any authority in criminal or traffic infraction matters beyond the limits in which the officer is appointed." 30-A M.R.S. §2671(2). Stoval offered no evidence on the jurisdictional issue. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court declined mState v. John, 639 A.2d 1062 (Me. 1994), "to adopt aper se rule that would require exclusion of evidence obtained in connection with an extraterritorial arrest." Id. at 1063. The Court affirmed the stop of a vehicle in Bangor by a Brewer officer who observed while still in Bangor following a coffee break, the defendant's car traveling with its headlights off, swerve into a snowbank, cross over its lane and into her lane, then drift back over and hit the snowbank again. When the car crossed over into the officer's lane a second time, the officer turned her cruiser around and followed defendant, ultimately turning on her blue lights and stopping defendant while he was still in Bangor. John conceded there was probable cause to arrest him but moved to suppress the evidence from the stop because the extraterritorial arrest violates Maine's fresh pursuit statute and is unreasonable for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Based on the facts in the Jolin case, the court refused to apply the fresh pursuit statute and apply the exclusionary rule. Rather, the Supreme Court held that evidence obtained from an extraterritorial arrest based on probable cause should not pre se be excluded. Id., 639 A.2d at 1064.

         The Jolin Court warned,

[W]e are sensitive to the abuses that could follow an intentional or premeditated disregard of territorial limits. Law enforcement officers should not make excursions into other jurisdictions to ferret out crime. Here the officer had probable cause to arrest defendant and her action was reasonable in light of the immediate need to prevent defendant from harming himself or others.

Id.

         The implication of defendant's argument is that Harmon had it out for him because of family gossip about Stoval. There is no evidence of this motivation. Harmon knew that Stoval did not have a license, was convicted of prior operating without a license convictions and was on bail. He also received a reliable tip that Stoval was in the process of driving home from work. In the absence of any evidence to show that Harmon was trying to intentionally disregard the territorial limits in order to ferret ...


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