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State v. Haley

Superior Court of Maine, Aroostook

April 28, 2017




         Pending before the court is the Defendant's Motion to Suppress. The Defendant stands charged with two counts of Unlawful Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs (Class B). He seeks an Order from the court suppressing as evidence against him in any subsequent trial any evidence obtained from a search of his cell phone. For the reasons set forth herein, the court denies this motion.


         The charges in this matter stem from two "controlled buys" of cocaine from the Defendant. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) was investigating the Defendant for unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. MDEA agents Forrest Dudley and Joey Seeley were leading the investigation and had secured the cooperation of a "Cooperating Individual" (CI) to assist them in their efforts.

         After engaging in the usual preliminaries prior to a controlled buy, the agents instructed their CI to make a telephone call to the Defendant to arrange for the purchase of cocaine. On October 23, 2016, the CI called a number that he believed to be the Defendant's cell phone number (207-554-0428) and made contact with the Defendant. He made arrangements to buy a quantity of cocaine. Under the supervision and monitoring of the MDEA agents by Electronic Transmitting Device (ETD); the CI went to the Defendant's home in Presque Isle and purchased what is alleged by the State to be cocaine. The agents decided to arrange for a second purchase of cocaine from the Defendant and again instructed the CI to telephone the Defendant at the same number and the CI did so on October 26, 2016.[1] The CI then went again to the Defendant's home and completed the purchase under the same kinds of supervision that were designed and intended to assure the integrity of any evidence obtained.[2]

         In the interests of concealing the identity of the CI for as long as they could and for purposes of preserving and promoting the safety of the CI, consistent with MDEA's usual practice and policy, the agents did not immediately arrest the Defendant although they had probable cause to do so.

         The agents did proceed to arrest the Defendant on November 23, 2015, for the felony level offenses of Unlawful Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs. With the express intention of immediately arresting the Defendant, both agents went to the Defendant's small (24' by 24') home at 70 Chapman Street in Presque Isle on that date. They traveled there in an unmarked vehicle. Both agents were attired in casual clothing. They went to the front door of the home and knocked. The Defendant responded by opening the front door. Although he was dressed, he was not wearing shoes.

         The agents confirmed that the Defendant was Joseph Haley and then identified themselves as law enforcement officers and indicated that they were placing him under arrest for the offense of Unlawful Trafficking of Scheduled Drugs.[3] The agents indicated that they would be calling the bail commissioner so that the Defendant could be released on an unsecured bond. They asked the Defendant if he had $60 for the bail commissioner and the Defendant responded that he did. The Defendant indicated that he wanted to get his shoes; the agents agreed and stepped into the small (10' by 10') living room area. The Defendant's wallet and cell phone were on a coffee table a few feet away. The Defendant picked up both his wallet and his cell phone and put on his shoes. The agents did a quick cursory check of his wallet for weapons and then returned it to him. The Defendant put both his wallet and his phone into his pockets and accompanied the agents back outside to their vehicle. The driveway area was icy and the agents elected not to place handcuffs on the Defendant until they got to the vehicle, at which point they placed handcuffs on the Defendant with the cuffs in front of his person.

         The agents then transported the Defendant to the Fort Fairfield Police Department.[4] They did not interact on the way to the station. After arriving at the police station, the agents provided the Defendant with his Miranda warnings and inquired if he wished to answer questions. The Defendant indicated that he wished to exercise his rights and declined to answer any questions.

         When the Defendant emptied his pockets during the standard intake processing, it was apparent that the Defendant had his wallet and cell phone (and some loose change) on his person. The officers asked if the Defendant would consent to a search of his cell phone.[5] The Defendant did not consent. The agents then told the Defendant that they were going to seize the cell phone as potential evidence and that they would get a search warrant authorizing their later search of the phone.

         Notwithstanding that the Defendant withheld consent to search of his phone, the officers asked the Defendant if he would disclose the "security code" for the telephone so that they could unlock it and put it in "airplane mode" thereby preventing any incoming data to the phone and also preventing any deletion of data from the phone. The Defendant consented to provide the "pass code pattern" and he testified that Agent Dudley held the phone up for him while he swiped his finger along the "passcode pattern" on his own.[6] Agent Dudley put the cell phone in "airplane mode" but did not otherwise access its contents. He told the Defendant that he would be seeking a search warrant authorizing that access.

         Agent Dudley did ultimately obtain a search warrant permitting a search of the cell phone, but he did not accomplish this until January 5, 2017, and he did not actually "search" the phone until January 6, 2017. When asked why he had the Defendant's cell phone in his possession[7] for 43 days before seeking a warrant, Agent Dudley in essence explained that he had been too busy.[8]

         Agent Dudley also testified that he was not sure if he had asked the Defendant what his telephone number was after giving the Defendant his Miranda warnings. It seems clear that the Bail Commissioner did ask for all of the Defendant's contact information and entered this information, ...

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