United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON AMENDED MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Z. SINGAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Arthur Miles' Amended Motion to
Suppress (ECF No. 49). The Court held an evidentiary hearing
on this Motion on July 2, 2019. Having considered the
evidence and arguments before it, the Court DENIES the Motion
for the reasons explained herein.
December 12, 2017, Maine State Trooper Thomas Pappas worked a
patrol on the Maine Turnpike. At approximately 10:33 p.m.,
Trooper Pappas observed a gray Infiniti driving southbound in
light traffic near mile marker fifty. Driving conditions were
poor due to sleet, rain, and patches of ice on the road, and
Pappas estimated that the car was driving about thirty miles
per hour. Pappas first encountered the car as it was
operating in the right lane of the two-lane highway but saw
it switch to the left lane before mile marker forty-nine. The
car continued in the left lane for about two miles while
Pappas trailed behind it. As Pappas did so, he ran the
vehicle's license plate and found that it was registered
to an Indigo Wilkerson of Dorchester, Massachusetts. During
this two-mile stretch, the car passed a sign that read
“Keep Right Except to Pass” but remained in the
left lane without overtaking any vehicles. Once the Infiniti
reached mile marker forty-eight, Pappas stopped it for
operating in the left lane without passing.
departed his cruiser and approached the Infiniti on the
passenger side. Once the window was down, he noted that there
were two occupants: a male driver and a female passenger. He
also smelled the odor of burning marijuana and observed a
bottle of champagne in the back seat. Pappas requested
license, registration, and insurance, which prompted the
driver to explain that he was driving because the passenger
was fatigued. The passenger provided Pappas with a
driver's license identifying her as Indigo Wilkerson.
Upon being asked if he had a license, the driver responded
that he did not. Instead, he provided Pappas with
identification showing that his name was Arthur Miles. Miles
then volunteered that he and Wilkerson had just come from Sea
40, a restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. Pappas asked if they
drove to Lewiston just for dinner and Miles responded that
they had visited friends. With all of this in mind, Pappas
asked Miles to “hop out” of the car and
instructed Wilkerson to remain inside.
near the trunk of the Infiniti, Pappas inquired about the
status of Miles' license and Miles indicated that it was
suspended. Pappas also asked Miles if he was on probation or
parole and if he had ever been arrested. Miles stated that he
was on probation for violating a restraining order and that
he had previously been arrested for murder. In response,
Pappas queried “you got anything on ya?” To which
Miles replied “no, sir, you can search me, sir.”
Pappas then searched Miles by patting him down, lifting his
sweatshirt slightly, and examining the contents of his
pockets. One of Miles' pockets contained a large wad of
cash, which Pappas inspected and replaced. Pappas continued
to question Miles by asking if he had probation search
conditions, who the car belonged to, and what happened with
the murder charge. Miles stated that he did not have search
conditions, that he “beat” the murder charge, and
that Wilkerson owned the car. Pappas then asked who
Miles' probation officer (“PO”) was and
whether Miles was allowed to be outside of Massachusetts.
Miles identified his PO as Jill Riordan and stated that he
was not supposed to be out of state.
that, Pappas returned to his cruiser and requested that
dispatch run records checks on both Miles and Wilkerson.
While he was waiting to hear back, Pappas called Miles over
to the passenger window and proceeded to question him about
his activities that day. Miles stated that he and Wilkerson
had been in Maine for three or four hours, had visited his
friends Derek, Jah, and Bless, and had gone to Sea 40.
Recognizing those names from prior drug trafficking
investigations, Pappas inquired how Miles knew those people.
Miles indicated that he grew up with them. Pappas expressed
skepticism in Miles' story by noting that there
“ain't a fucking thing to do in Lewiston” and
that people seldom drive so far in icy conditions. Miles
responded that the storm had caught him by surprise and that
the weather was better near Boston. Around that time, Officer
Angela Porter arrived on scene and began speaking with
Wilkerson. Pappas remained with Miles and, through further
questions, learned that Miles was carrying approximately $1,
500 in cash and that Miles and Wilkerson had purchased the
car earlier that day.
eventually radioed that it had sent Pappas the records search
results, that Wilkerson's had come back negative, and
that Miles' had been “re-transmitted.” Pappas
asked dispatch to contact Miles' PO and then raised the
topic of employment with Miles. Speaking in an increasingly
agitated tone, Miles informed Pappas that he was in
construction, had not reported to work in three or four
months, and that Wilkerson worked at a bank. Soon thereafter,
Officer Porter approached the cruiser and interjected with a
few questions for Miles. Pappas then instructed Miles to
place his hands on the hood of the cruiser and Porter relayed
Wilkerson's story to Pappas. By Wilkerson's account,
she and Miles had purchased the Infiniti that day, driven to
Lewiston, and had not met with anyone else while they were
there. Upon hearing this, Pappas called Miles back to the
window and attempted to clarify his version of events. Miles
stated that he had gone to Sea 40 with friends and that
Wilkerson had not joined them.
telling Miles to put his hands back on the hood, Pappas
informed Officer Porter that he was still unable to view the
results of the records searches. He reached back out to
dispatch, which advised that it had sent the results again.
At that point, Pappas learned that Miles had been arrested in
Maine ten days earlier and had agreed to state bail
conditions. Those conditions stated, among other things, that
Miles could not use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs and
that he was subject to searches of his residence, vehicle, or
person on “articulable suspicion.” This prompted
Pappas to probe Miles regarding his use of marijuana and the
circumstances of the Maine arrest. About thirty minutes into
the stop, Pappas placed Miles in handcuffs and detected the
odor of alcohol on Miles' breath. Dispatch logs indicate that
there were up to four officers present at the scene by that
point: Pappas, Porter, Elgin Physic, and John Darcy.
Miles secured, Pappas proceeded to speak with Wilkerson. As
relevant here, Wilkerson told Pappas that Miles had purchased
the Infiniti for her in cash, she had gone with Miles to Sea
40, the restaurant had been closed when they arrived, and she
had been with Miles all evening. Thereafter, Pappas searched
the Infiniti. He discovered a bottle of champagne in the back
seat and a baggie of what appeared to be oxycodone pills in a
center console vent.
seeks suppression of all evidence flowing from three alleged
violations of his Fourth Amendment rights: (1) an illegal
stop; (2) unlawful custodial interrogation; and (3) a
warrantless vehicle search outside any exception to the
warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. The Court
addresses each of these grounds for suppression in turn.
first avers that the stop constituted an unreasonable seizure
because his left lane operation did not violate Maine
This argument is misguided. The Fourth Amendment applies to
traffic stops, but it requires only that an officer act on
“reasonable suspicion of unlawful conduct, ” not
that such conduct occur. United States v. Jenkins,
680 F.3d 101, 104 (1st Cir. 2012). Reasonable suspicion
entails “a particularized and objective basis for
suspecting legal wrongdoing.” United States v.
Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273 (2002) (internal citations and
quotations omitted). Such suspicion may be grounded in a
mistake of fact or law, so long as that mistake is
“objectively reasonable.” Heien v.
North Carolina, 135 S.Ct. 530, 539 (2014). Here,
notwithstanding the applicable traffic laws, it was
reasonable for Pappas to believe-as any officer or motorist
would-that the “Keep Right Except to Pass” sign
was an enforceable instruction.See United States v.
Blackburn, No. 01-CR-86-H, 2002 WL 32693714, at *2 (N.D.
Okla. Feb. 20, 2002) (finding ...