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State v. Turner

Supreme Court of Maine

August 22, 2017


          Argued: April 13, 2017

          Scott F. Hess, Esq. (orally), The Law Office of Scott F. Hess, LLC, Augusta, for appellant Ryan Turner.

          Maeghan Maloney, District Attorney, Francis Griffin, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), and Mary-Ann Letourneau, Stud. Atty., Prosecutorial District IV, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine.


          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] Ryan Turner drove his car up over a sidewalk median in Waterville and drew the attention of a Winslow police officer who had just stopped another driver, coming across the bridge into Waterville, for a traffic infraction that had occurred in Winslow. After Turner careened onward, he pulled into a parking lot and stopped his car. The Winslow officer stopped what he was doing, followed Turner, and approached Turner in the parking lot. Following that contact, Turner was charged by an arriving Waterville officer with operating under the influence (Class D), 29-A M.R.S. § 2411(1-A)(C)(1) (2016). After a jury found Turner guilty, the court (Kennebec County, Benson, J.) entered a judgment of conviction. Turner appeals from the conviction, arguing that the motion court [Marden, J.) erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the Winslow officer's extraterritorial stop of his vehicle because the officer exceeded the authority granted to him by 30-A M.R.S. §2671 (2016) and Winslow, Me., Code § 2-44 (2010). We affirm the judgment of conviction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts were found by the motion court and are supported by competent evidence in the suppression record. See State v. Kierstead, 2015 ME 45, ¶ 14, 114 A.3d 984.

         [¶3] On March 19, 2015, at approximately 10:00 p.m., a Winslow law enforcement officer initiated a traffic stop in Winslow, but the car drove into Waterville before stopping. While engaged in that traffic stop in Waterville, the officer heard a loud noise and observed a silver four-door sedan drive over the curb and proceed in an erratic manner while turning from Spring Street onto Front Street. The officer terminated the traffic stop and attempted to locate the silver sedan on Front Street. He noticed a vehicle of identical appearance parked in an adjacent bank parking lot. The officer pulled his cruiser in behind the vehicle, leaving sufficient room for the vehicle to pull around the cruiser, and turned on the cruiser's blue lights. He noticed that the motor was not running and that there was damage to the vehicle and fluid on the ground consistent with what one would observe after a vehicle had been driven over a curb. The officer also made observations of the driver, whose appearance indicated impairment. The officer asked for the driver's license and registration and identified the driver as Turner. The officer took no further action and immediately notified Waterville police.[1] The record reflects that a Waterville officer arrived approximately two minutes later.

         [¶4] Turner was charged by complaint with criminal operating under the influence and failing to submit to a chemical test (Class D), 29-A M.R.S. § 2411(1-A)(C)(1). He entered a not guilty plea and moved to suppress all evidence obtained from the Winslow officer's stop of the vehicle, arguing that he was unreasonably seized by the Winslow police officer because the officer was acting outside the municipality where he had been appointed, in violation of Maine's "fresh pursuit" statute, 30-A M.R.S. § 2671, and the Winslow Code.

         [¶5] On April 26, 2016, the court held a suppression hearing where the Winslow officer was the only testifying witness. After the hearing, the court entered an order denying the motion to suppress. Turner filed two motions for further findings of fact and conclusions of law and a motion to reconsider. The court ultimately concluded that the officer's observations of the erratic operation and possible property damage constituted specific and articulable facts for the officer to reasonably believe that a misdemeanor had been committed in his presence or that the driver was impaired and needed assistance. See M.R.U. Crim. P. 41A(d). The court further concluded that Turner was not seized until the Winslow officer asked for Turner's license and registration, at which time the encounter became an investigatory detention. The court declined to give weight to Turner's argument that the Winslow officer did not have jurisdictional authority to seize him in Waterville. Citing to State v. Rideout, 2000 ME 194, 761 A.2d 288, and State v. John, 639 A.2d 1062 (Me. 1994), the court concluded, "The officer had probable cause to arrest [Turner] and his action was reasonable in light of an immediate need to prevent [Turner] from harming himself or others. An extraterritorial arrest is not per se unreasonable giving rise to the application of the exclusionary rule." The court declined to make further findings regarding the Winslow officer's contact with the Waterville Police Department.

         [¶6] Following the denial of the motion to suppress, the court [Benson, J.) held a one-day jury trial on August 22, 2016. The jury found Turner guilty, and the court sentenced him to the mandatory ninety-six hours' imprisonment required by his refusal to submit to a chemical test, a 150-day license suspension, and a $600 fine. See 29-A M.R.S. §2411(5)(A) (2016). Turner timely appealed. See 15 M.R.S. § 2115 (2016); M.R. App. P. 2(b)(2)(A).


         [¶7] Turner argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because he was unreasonably seized when the Winslow officer, outside that officer's territorial jurisdiction, stopped him in violation of Maine's fresh pursuit statute and the local ordinance. When reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, we review the findings of fact for clear error and the conclusions of law de novo. State v. Gerry,2016 ME 163, ¶ 11, 150 A.3d 810. Because Turner does not challenge the court's factual findings, we review only the legal determination that the officer's seizure of Turner was constitutional and reasonable. See Kierstead, 2015 ME 45, ΒΆ ...

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