D. Warren Justice, Superior Court
the court is a motion to suppress by defendant Najee White,
who is representing himself and contends that any evidence
obtained during the stop of his vehicle on October 4, 2016
should be suppressed. White argues there was no reasonable
articulable suspicion for the stop. White also contends that
once his vehicle was stopped, the officer needed and did not
have reasonable articulable suspicion to ask for his
registration and driver's license.
hearing on White's motion was held on April 13, 2017.
court finds that in response to a report of a suspicious
vehicle Officer Ben Hall was dispatched to Cottage Street in
Westbrook. As he turned the corner onto Cottage Street, he
saw White's vehicle beginning to pull away from the curb
on the left-hand side of the road, proceed down the middle of
the road for a brief period, and slowly move into the
right-hand lane. There was no oncoming traffic at the time.
Officer Hall turned on his blue lights when White's
vehicle had almost moved entirely into the right-hand lane,
and White then pulled over.
White's stated reason for stopping the vehicle was his
belief that White's vehicle had violated a parking
regulation of the City that forbade parking on the left-hand
side of the street against the flow of traffic. Although any
traffic markings on the street had faded to the point of
invisibility, the video offered in evidence shows that
Cottage Street had a stop sign in both directions at the next
intersection, demonstrating that Cottage Street was a two-way
unclear from the videotape whether White's vehicle had
just started moving forward when the officer turned the
corner onto Cottage Street or whether it was still stopped on
the left-hand side of the road and began to slowly move
forward an instant later. In either case, Officer Hall had a
reasonable articulable suspicion that it had been parked on
the left-hand side of the road. The State would therefore
meet its burden of showing a reasonable articulable suspicion
for the stop if it had offered into evidence the local
ordinance that purportedly forbade parking on the left
against the flow of traffic on a two-way street. The court is
not allowed to take judicial notice of local ordinances.
Mills v. Town of Eliot, 2008 ME 134 ¶ 23, 955
A.2d 258. Without the ordinance in evidence, the court cannot
determine whether there was a reasonable suspicion of a
violation of the ordinance. To the extent that Officer Hall
also stopped White based on a vague report of a
"suspicious vehicle" without any additional
specifics, that alone would not constitute reasonable
articulable suspicion, and the State does not argue to the
State argued that the officer was justified in stopping the
White vehicle for driving down the center of the road for a
short distance but (1) that was not the officer's reason
for the stop and (2) the state statute cited by the
prosecutor applies when there are "clearly marked
lanes" for traffic, which was not true in this case.
29-A M.R.S. § 2051. In addition, it cannot be argued
that White was operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner
because there was no oncoming traffic, and the only vehicles
on Cottage Street were those of White and Officer Hall.
the court finds that the State has not met its burden
of proof White argues in the alternative
that even if the stop had been valid, the officer did not
have reasonable articulable suspicion to then ask for his
license and registration. On this issue, the
court disagrees. Once a vehicle had been stopped based on
reasonable articulable suspicion. 29-A
M.R.S. § 105(2) authorizes the officer
to request license and registration. The Law Court has also
ruled that a request for a driver's license does not
require any additional reasonable articulable suspicion if
the stop of the vehicle was justified. State v.
Gerry, 2016 ME 163 ¶ 13, 150A.3d810.
because the court cannot determine whether there was a
reasonable articulable suspicion of a parking ordinance
violation without seeing the ordinance, White's motion to
suppress is granted.
In addition to finding that an
officer's suspicion was objectively reasonable, the court
must also find that the officer "actually
entertained" the suspicion in question. State v.
Lear,1998 ME 273 ¶ 5, 722 A.2d 1266, quoting
State v. Dean,645 A.2d 634, 635 (Me. 1994), and
State v. Worster,611 A.2d 979, 980 (Me. 1992);
State v. Chapman,495 A.2d 314, 317 (Me. 1985)
("the court clearly must find that the police
actually had a suspicion at the time of the
investigatory stop. A finding that a reasonable person
could have had a reasonable suspicion on the given facts
is not alone ...