ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
defendant seeks to suppress evidence obtained as a result of
the stop of defendant on June 26, 2018 in Bridgton, Maine.
The defendant argues that the officer lacked reasonable and
articulable facts to justify the stop of defendant's car.
For the following reasons, the motion is granted.
court incorporates into this order the findings of fact made
on the record at the conclusion of the hearing.
order to justify a brief investigatory stop, "the
standard to be used is whether an officer has '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.'" State v. Sasso, 2016 ME 95, ¶
14, 143 A.3d 124; see State v. Simmons, 2016 ME 49,
¶ 8, 135 A.3d 824 ("A stop is justified when an
officer's assessment of the existence of specific and
articulable facts indicating a possible violation of the law
or a public safety risk is objectively reasonable considering
the totality of the circumstances."); State v.
Brown, 1997 ME 90, ¶ 5, 694 A.2d 453 (quoting
State v. Cusack, 649 A.2d 16, 18 (Me. 1994))
("a police officer must have an articulable suspicion
that criminal conduct or a civil violation has occurred, is
occurring, or is about to occur, and the officer's
suspicion must be 'objectively reasonable in the totality
of the circumstances.'") "An investigatory stop
is valid when it is 'supported by specific and
articulable facts which, taken as a whole and together with
rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the
police intrusion.'" See State v. Taylor,
1997 ME 81, ¶ 9, 694 A.2d 907 (quoting State v.
Hill, 606 A.2d 793, 795 (Me. 1992)). "The
reasonable suspicion standard requires less than probable
cause that a crime was being committed, but more than
speculation or an unsubstantiated hunch." State v.
Sampson, 669 A.2d 1326, 1328 (Me. 1996) (quoting
State v. Caron, 534 A.2d 978, 979 (Me. 1987)).
relies on United States v. Sowards. 690 F.3d 583
(4th Cir. 2012). In Sowards, the officer stopped
defendant's car for speeding based on the officer's
visual estimate that the car was traveling 75 miles per hour
in a 70 miles per hour zone. See Sowards, 690 F.3d
at 585. On appeal, the court agreed with defendant that the
stop of his vehicle was not supported by probable cause,
which "exists if, given the totality of the
circumstances, the officer 'had reasonably trustworthy
information . . . sufficient to warrant a prudent [person] in
believing that the petitioner had committed or was committing
an offense.'" M. at 584-85, 588 (quoting Beck v.
Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91 (1946). The Sowards Court
found that the officer had not been trained to estimate
speeds and had difficulty with measurements. See
Sowards, 690 F.3d at 589. The Court found that
rather than being trained to estimate speeds, the officer had
had the opportunity to guess at the speed of twelve vehicles
and was able to guess within a total margin of error of 42
miles per hour for all of the vehicles. See Id. at
588-89. The Officer's accuracy in guessing may have
permitted the officer to pass the accuracy test but his
margin of error could have been greater than the five miles
per hour margin of error involved in the stop of Mr. Sowards.
See Id. 690 F.3d at 595.
case, Sergeant Jones testified that during his training, each
cadet was required to estimate speed with a certified radar
operator and had to estimate speed to a margin of plus or
minus five miles per hour according to the radar while
stationary. As in State v. Estes. however, although Sergeant
Jones "implied that he met a certification standard
requiring that he be able to make estimations falling within
5 miles per hour of the actual speed, he did not testify to
the required accuracy rate." State v. Estes,
223 P.3d 287, 290 (Idaho Ct. App. 2009). The Estes
court found that the officer did "not disclose whether
certification required that he be able to meet that
5-mile-per-hour variance standard 65 percent of the time or
99 percent of the time, nor what his actual rate was ... the
trial evidence is void of any information at all on the
officer's accuracy rate." Id.
involved a probable cause standard. See Sowards, 690
F.3d at 588. Estes involved a proof beyond a
reasonable doubt standard. See Estes, 223 P.3d at
289. This case involves the lesser standard of reasonable
articulable suspicion. During the very brief examination of
Sergeant Jones at the hearing, he provided no information
about the Maine Criminal Justice Academy's required
accuracy rate or about his accuracy rate. Despite the low
standard to be applied, the record reveals no objectively
reasonable, articulable suspicion considering the totality of
the circumstances that defendant was speeding. See
Sasso, 2016 ME 95, ¶ 14, 143 A.3d 124;
Simmons, 2016 ME 49, ¶ 8, 135 A.3d 824;
Brown, 1997 ME 90, ¶ 5, 694 A.2d 453 (quoting
Cusack, 649 A.2d at 18); Taylor, 1997 ME
81, ¶ 9, 694 A.2d 907 (quoting Hill, 606 A.2d
at 795). Instead, on this record, with no objective basis on
which to conclude that Sergeant Jones's estimate was
accurate, the stop was based on speculation or an
unsubstantiated hunch. See Sampson, 669 A.2d at 1328
(quoting Caron, 534 A.2d at 979).
Defendant's Motion to Suppress is GRANTED, Evidence
obtained as a result of the stop of Defendant's car on