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United States v. Martin

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 6, 2019




         Gregory Martin is charged with possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C.A. § 841(a)(1) (West 2019). Martin seeks to suppress all evidence and statements obtained as a result of a traffic stop and subsequent dog sniff of a vehicle in which Martin was a passenger. See ECF No. 36. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.


         On the night of June 1, 2018, while patrolling the Maine turnpike near the York toll plaza, Trooper John Darcy of the Maine State Police observed a vehicle driving erratically. The vehicle's speed was fluctuating between 50 miles per hour and 70 miles per hour (the speed limit), it was randomly braking without any apparent cause, and it was weaving from side to side within its lane. Trooper Darcy followed the vehicle for approximately 25 miles. At some point during this time, Trooper Darcy called his partner, Trooper Jesse Duda, to tell him that he would be stopping a vehicle showing signs of an impaired driver. At roughly 11:33 p.m., after he observed the vehicle again weave in its lane, this time drifting onto the center line, Trooper Darcy initiated a traffic stop. Trooper Darcy turned on his dashcam roughly one minute prior to initiating the stop.

         After the vehicle had pulled over, Trooper Darcy approached and informed the female driver that he had observed driving behavior which led him to think she might be impaired. In response to Trooper Darcy's questions, the driver indicated that she was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol and had not been distracted, but that she was tired. Trooper Darcy then asked for her driver's license and for identification from Martin, the passenger in the front seat.

         Trooper Duda arrived at the scene approximately 90 seconds after the traffic stop commenced and approached the passenger side of the stopped vehicle. As Trooper Duda reached the front passenger side window, Martin handed Trooper Darcy a Maine driver's license bearing the name “Micheal Cohen.” Because the driver did not have any identification on her, Trooper Darcy asked her to exit the vehicle and come to his police cruiser so she could provide her name and birth date while he located her in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (“BMV”) database.

         While Trooper Darcy took the driver's name and birth date, he also asked about what she and Martin had been doing that day. She stated that they had been shopping in New Hampshire. Trooper Darcy had no trouble locating the driver in the BMV database and determining that she had a valid driver's license. Trooper Darcy could not, however, find any matches for the name “Micheal Cohen” with the given birthday in the database, and, roughly 6 minutes and 10 seconds into the traffic stop, asked aloud whether the license Martin had provided was fake. Trooper Darcy then asked the driver what Martin's name was and how it was spelled: she answered “Michael Cohen” with “Michael” spelled differently than on his license. She did not know his date of birth. Shortly afterward, Trooper Duda told Trooper Darcy to check in the New York BMV database. Martin then provided a New York license with the same date of birth but spelling his name “Michael Cohen.” Trooper Darcy could not find either a “Micheal Cohen” or a “Michael Cohen” with the given date of birth in either Maine or New York. Trooper Darcy again wondered aloud whether the licenses were fake, and Trooper Duda asked the driver if Martin was lying to them. She said he was not.

         Roughly ten minutes into the traffic stop, Officer Duda asked Martin to step outside the vehicle to conduct a patdown search for weapons based on his concern that Martin had provided fake identification. Trooper Darcy proceeded to question Martin about his licenses, asking him if they were fake. When asked his date of birth, Martin gave a different date-January 26, 1978-than that listed on the two licenses (August 25, 1978).

         Roughly 12 minutes and 45 seconds into the traffic stop, while Trooper Darcy returned to his cruiser to search for Martin's identity using the new birthday Martin had provided, Trooper Duda began a dog sniff of the vehicle with his trained K-9 partner, “Mack, ” who had been in Trooper Duda's cruiser. After Trooper Darcy still could not locate “Cohen” in the Maine and New York BMV databases, he again asked Martin for his date of birth, at which point Martin provided a third Dated: January 26, 1976. After Trooper Darcy still could not locate “Cohen, ” and again accused Martin of providing fake identifications, Martin stated that his actual name was “Jamel Martin.” Trooper Duda and Mack completed the dog sniff of the vehicle at almost the exact same moment.

         Mack alerted twice on the trunk of the vehicle during the dog sniff indicating a positive response for the presence of drugs. During the next half hour, the troopers searched the vehicle, but found no contraband. Trooper Darcy also searched Martin during this time, finding nothing. Approximately 50 minutes into the stop, Trooper Duda noticed a bulge in Martin's pants, which he thought could be narcotics. At this point Trooper Darcy handcuffed Martin and searched him again, still finding nothing.

         Approximately an hour and 13 minutes into the stop, Trooper Darcy read Martin the Miranda warnings in the front seat of his cruiser because he wanted to ask Martin questions. Roughly seven minutes later, the troopers informed Martin that they had located narcotics in an iced tea container in the car. Approximately one hour and 23 minutes into the stop, Martin asked Trooper Darcy: “So why is [the driver] getting arrested for? It's all mine.” Gov. Ex. 1 at 1:23:57. Roughly a minute later, after Trooper Darcy asked him if they could “sort out what really went down, ” Martin said “[the driver] had nothing to do with it, that's for sure.” Id. at 1:25:05-1:25:15. Trooper Darcy then asked, “all you?”, to which Martin responded, “all me.” Id. Martin made several other statements indicating that the driver knew nothing about the drugs. Id. at 1:25:16-1:25:30. Martin and the driver were subsequently taken into custody and transported to the State Police barracks in Portland where, in response to questioning, Martin admitted to purchasing $10, 000 of crack cocaine in New York to bring back to Maine. He also admitted to being Gregory Martin, not Jamel Martin.


         Martin argues, first, that the traffic stop of the vehicle that he was a passenger in was an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment because there was no reasonable suspicion for stopping the vehicle, and that all evidence discovered during and as a result of that search must be suppressed. Second, Martin argues that the traffic stop was unreasonably extended to allow for the dog sniff, which was not supported by reasonable suspicion, and that any evidence discovered thereafter must be suppressed. Third, Martin argues that the narcotics detection canine did not follow proper protocols and, as a result, there was no probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of the vehicle. Finally, Martin contends that because he did not receive Miranda warnings when he was initially handcuffed, any subsequent statements he made must be suppressed. See generally Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

         A. The ...

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