ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
E. Mullen, Deputy Chief Justice.
matter came forward on the Defendant's Motion to Suppress
on July 2, 2018. After hearing, the Court makes the following
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law upon which the
ORDER set out below is based:
Findings of Fact:
Defense counsel informed the undersigned at the start of the
hearing that only the issue of probable cause to stop the
vehicle was being challenged, and so the other issues raised
in the Defendant's motion are not addressed below.
Thursday, March 15, 2018 at approximately 10:25 p.m. Trooper
Hunter Belanger (hereinafter "Trooper") was on
patrol in a marked cruiser on Route 32 in China, Maine. The
Trooper observed a vehicle entering Route 32 ahead of the
Trooper that proceeded to pass the Trooper. The Trooper
believed the vehicle had not stopped completely at the stop
sign before entering Route 32 and appeared to take a
"wide turn" momentarily coming into the
Trooper's radar unit detected the vehicle proceeding at
53 mph in a posted 40 mph zone.
gentleman, Samuel Miller, was a "ride-along" with
the Trooper. Mr. Miller described the Defendant's vehicle
as "flying through" the stop sign and that the
vehicle then proceeded "slightly over the speed
limit." Miller also testified that Defendant appeared to
have trouble maintaining his vehicle within the confines of
the Defendant's lane of travel.
Trooper activated his blue lights and attempted to stop the
vehicle. The vehicle took 30 seconds to stop. The Trooper
testified that he had no idea who the operator of the vehicle
was before stopping the vehicle.
Conclusions of Law:
Defendant asserts that stopping Defendant's vehicle
"was made without reasonable suspicion of criminal
activity and was in violation of Defendant's
Constitutional rights pursuant to the Fourth, Fifth, and
Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as
the relevant provisions of the Maine Constitution."
order to support a brief investigatory stop of a motor
vehicle, such as the stop in this case, the Trooper had to
have an objectively reasonable, articulable suspicion that
either criminal conduct, a civil violation, or a threat to
public safety has occurred, is occurring, or is about to
occur. Moreover, the suspicion that any of these
circumstances exist must be objectively reasonable in the
totality of the circumstances. State v. Sylvain,
2003 ME 5, ¶ 11; State v. Turner, 2017 ME 185,
¶ 8. At a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence
obtained in the course of a traffic stop, the State bears the
burden of demonstrating that the officer's actions were
objectively reasonable under the circumstances. State v.
Brown, 675 A.2d 504, 505 (Me. 1996). A "reasonable
suspicion" is not the same as proof by a preponderance
of the evidence or even probable cause to believe that
impairment exists. An investigatory stop is valid when it is
"supported by specific and articulable facts which,
taken as a whole and together with the rational inferences
from those facts, reasonably warrant the police
intrusion." State v. Hill, 606 A.2d 793, 795
(Me. 1992) (citations omitted). Suspicion of a civil
violation provides adequate specific and articulable facts.
State v. Carsetti, 536 A.2d 1121, 1122 (Me. 1988),
habeas corpus denied, 932 F.2d 1007 (1st Cir. 1991)
(partially obstructed plate and expired registration
this case the officers had reason to believe that the
defendant was committing a traffic violation by failing to
stop at a stop sign, as well as speeding. Thus, the Court
finds there was no problem with the officers stopping the
defendant, see State v. Bolduc, 1998 ME 255;
State v. Taylor, 1997 ME 81.
Defense counsel, apparently for the first time at least with
respect to bringing the issue before the Court, raised an
argument that the State had violated Defendant's rights
under Giglio v. United ...