Attorney: HARRIS MATTSON SILVERSTEIN LAW
State's Attorney: MAEGHAN MALONEY
ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
J. WALKER, JUDGE
has been charged with two counts of Unlawful Possession of
Scheduled Drugs, Classes D and E pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A.
§ 1107-A(1)(C) and 17-A M.R.S A. § 1107-A(1)(F).
Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress filed
on June 25, 2018 and argued before this Court on September
Motion to Suppress filed by the Defendant addresses three
different cases with an array of constitutional challenges.
For our purposes, this Court will only be addressing the
constitutional issues associated with the incidents occurring
on February 6, 2018. On February 6, 2018, Trooper Jon Brown
(hereinafter Trooper Brown) of the Maine State Police was one
of several officers engaging in a detail regarding distracted
drivers, focusing specifically on the "move over
law" depicted in 29-A M.R.S.A. § 2054(9) (2017).
Around 10:00 A.M. on February 6, 2018 Trooper Brown, while in
uniform, was completing a traffic stop of a commercial truck.
After finishing the traffic stop, Trooper Brown was sitting
in his fully marked SUV cruiser behind the commercial truck
waiting for the truck to pull onto the freeway. While waiting
in the breakdown lane, with his emergency lights still
engaged, a white Chevrolet motor vehicle passed Trooper Brown
and shook his cruiser due to its proximity in the adjacent
to Maine law, a driver passing a stationary authorized
emergency vehicle with emergency lights on must attempt to
move over to a passing lane rather then pass the stationary
vehicle in the adjacent lane. 29-A M.R.S A. §
2054(9)(A). If it is impossible for a vehicle to move to a
passing lane, the operator is required to pass the stationary
authorized emergency vehicle "at a careful and prudent
speed reasonable for passing the authorized vehicle."
29-A M.R.S .A. § 2054(9)(B). Based on 29-A M.R.S.A.
§ 2054(9), when Trooper Brown saw there were no vehicles
in the passing lane which would have hindered the white
Chevrolet from moving over, he pulled out onto the interstate
and began to pursue the Chevrolet.
the speed at which the Chevrolet was traveling, it took
Trooper Brown a few moments to catch up to the vehicle. While
in pursuit, Trooper Brown contacted dispatch to inform them
and his detail that he was administering a traffic stop.
Trooper Brown proceeded to pull the vehicle over at mile
marker 116 on 1-95 and approached the car on foot. There were
three people in the vehicle which included the Defendant as
the driver and two passengers. Trooper Brown engaged in
regular traffic citation practice and asked the parties for
their identification, for vehicle information, and asked all
parties a few informative questions. As testified to at the
Motion to Suppress hearing, Trooper Brown stated he asked the
Defendant and the passengers the following: Where are you
going? Where are you coming from? What are you doing?
According to Trooper Brown, this conversation lasted for 1-2
minutes. During this dialogue, Trooper Brown became
suspicious because the Defendant and his passengers were
inconsistent in their answers. The Defendant and the
passengers informed Trooper Brown they were going to New York
to visit the Defendant's sick father, but all parties
were inconsistent as to where they would be staying and what
else they would be doing in New York. Trooper Brown
articulated his suspicion at the Motion to Suppress hearing
and explained that this suspicion led him to call in a second
officer with a canine unit.
waiting for the second officer to arrive, Trooper Brown
continued with his traffic stop in relation to the
Defendant's violation of 29-A M.R.S.A. § 2054(9).
Within a couple of minutes of calling in a second officer,
Corporal Derrick Record (hereinafter Corporal Record) arrived
on the scene with his canine unit. After Corporal Record
pulled over behind Trooper Brown's cruiser, he approached
Trooper Brown and asked for details regarding the situation.
Although there are some inconsistencies in testimony as to
whether Trooper Brown was getting in his car or was already
in his car when Corporal Record arrived on the scene, what is
clear is that Trooper Brown had not yet finished the traffic
stop when Corporal Record appeared. After being filled in on
the circumstances of the stop, Corporal Record approached the
white Chevrolet and Trooper Brown remained in his cruiser to
continue the necessary steps to complete the traffic
citation. Trooper Brown testified this took a few minutes and
that he had not finished the stop prior to Corporal Record
arriving at the scene.
Corporal Record's point of view, he too was working the
"move over" detail with Trooper Brown and was
located at mile marker 120 when he heard over dispatch that
Trooper Brown was in pursuit of a white Chevrolet. Within 2-3
minutes, Corporal Record was asked to join Trooper Brown at
mile marker 116 with his canine. Corporal Record testified
that it took him 3-4 min to arrive at mile marker 116.
Trooper Brown informed Corporal Record about the reason for
the stop and that he was suspicious of the Defendant and the
two passengers due to their inconsistent statements and
nervousness. Due to this suspicion, Trooper Brown wanted to
have Corporal Record on the scene as a second officer for
back up and for Corporal Record to have his canine sniff
around the vehicle.
speaking to Trooper Brown, Corporal Record approached the
Chevrolet, without his canine, and addressed the Defendant
and the two passengers. Corporal Record informed the
Defendant and the passengers he was going to have his dog
sniff around the car; however, prior to doing that he asked
all three people if there were any narcotics or weapons in
the vehicle. At first all parties said no, but Corporal
Record asked again if there were any narcotics and the female
passenger informed him she had marijuana on her person. After
the female passenger spoke up, the male passenger in the back
seat also informed Corporal Record he had marijuana on his
person. Corporal Record informed the parties that his canine
is not triggered by marijuana, but asked both passengers to
show him the marijuana. The female passenger showed Corporal
Record her marijuana without incident. The male passenger
opened a backpack to show his marijuana, and while looking
into the backpack Corporal Record saw narcotic paraphernalia.
Specifically, he saw what appeared to be a crack or heroin
pipe used to smoke illegal narcotics. Corporal Record also
saw a razor blade in the backpack. After seeing the drug
paraphernalia, Corporal Record asked both passengers to step
out of the car.
Record patted down the male passenger for weapons and
narcotics and also patted down the female passenger for
weapons. Once the pat downs were completed, Corporal Record
asked the Defendant if he would exit the vehicle and speak to
him on the roadside. Corporal Record spoke to the Defendant
for 3-5 minutes and asked if he had any narcotics on him,
which led the Defendant to admit that he had prescription
pills that were not his. After gaining this information,
Corporal Record did a pat down of the Defendant, felt an item
on him that felt like cash, and eventually pulled out a wad
of cash in the sum of $800.00. After the pat down, Corporal
Record returned to his vehicle to run the names of the
Defendant and the passengers with other officers and
agencies. Corporal Record testified that the process of the
name search took 5-6 minutes.
finishing the name search, Corporal Record returned to the
Defendant and inquired what the money was for. The Defendant
and the passengers changed their original story and stated
they were bringing rent money to the Defendant's sister
in New York. Thereafter, the Defendant told Corporal Record
that the illegal pills he had were in the trunk of his
vehicle in a bag. Corporal Record opened the trunk of the
vehicle, saw a duffle bag, and found suboxone strips,
prescription pills determined to be Xanax after being tested,
and $4, 000.00 in $1, 000.00 bundles. Corporal Record then
brought out his canine and did person sniffs of the Defendant
and the passengers. Thereafter, Corporal Record called for
other officers to come to the scene. At the end of the
interaction between police and the Defendant, Mr. Galati was
not arrested. Rather, he was summoned by Corporal Record for
the drug possession charges and was given a traffic citation
by Trooper Brown pursuant to his violation of 29-A M.R.S.A.
Defendant brought this Motion to Suppress challenging the
constitutionality of the traffic stop claiming under several
grounds of law that his Fourth Amendment rights were
violated. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing,
this Court denies the Defendant's Motion to Suppress.
I.Validity of ...