United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION IN LIMINE
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
trial looming, the Court grants in part and dismisses in part
a government motion in limine. The Court grants the part of
the motion that bars the defendant from rearguing before the
jury the merits of the Court's ruling on a motion to
suppress evidence. Otherwise, cognizant of the
defendant's rights to due process, the benefit of the
Confrontation Clause, and compulsory process, the Court
declines to bar the defendant from presenting other defense
evidence, such as the complicated motivations of certain
witnesses, potential racial animus within the police
department, and the relationship between the chief of police
and a number of critical witnesses.
federal grand jury indicted Carlos Pemberton on July 18,
2018, alleging that he possessed heroin with the intent to
distribute it in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Indictment (ECF No. 2). On October 9, 2019, the
United States of America (Government) filed a motion in
limine to preclude Mr. Pemberton from rearguing issues that
it claims were resolved by a decision on a motion to suppress
evidence and from offering irrelevant and confusing evidence.
Gov't's Mot. in Limine to Preclude
Defense from Rearguing Suppression Issue During Trial and
Offering Irrelevant, Confusing Evid. (ECF No. 108)
(Gov't's Mot.). Mr. Pemberton responded on
November 6, 2019. Def.'s Resp. to Gov't's
Mot. in Limine to Preclude Defense from Rearguing
Suppression Issue During Trial and Offering Irrelevant,
Confusing Evid. (ECF No. 122) (Def.'s
Opp'n). The Government did not file a reply.
Factual Backdrop: The Motion to Suppress Evidence
Mr. Pemberton's indictment, he filed a motion to suppress
evidence on October 10, 2018, seeking to suppress all
evidence seized during a warrantless search of his residence
in alleged violation of his constitutional rights.
Def.'s Mot. to Suppress (ECF No.
Mr. Pemberton filed an amended motion to suppress on November
20, 2019, together with an affidavit from Attorney Brown.
Def.'s Am. Mot. to Suppress (ECF No. 26);
Aff. of Donald F. Brown (ECF No. 27). The Government
responded on December 21, 2018, and attached four exhibits to
its opposition. Gov't's Obj. to the Def.'s
Am. Mot. to Suppress (ECF No. 33), id.,
Attachs. 1-4. On February 28, 2019, the Magistrate Judge held
a suppression hearing at which three witnesses testified,
Ct. Witness List (ECF No. 47), and the Magistrate
Judge admitted six exhibits into evidence. Ct. Ex.
List (ECF No. 48). The Magistrate Judge held an oral
argument on the motion to suppress on April 12, 2019.
Min. Entry (ECF No. 54). On May 17, 2018, the
Magistrate Judge issued a recommended decision on the amended
motion to suppress in which he recommended that the Court
deny the motion to suppress. Recommended Decision on
Def.'s Am. Mot. to Suppress (ECF No. 55). Mr.
Pemberton did not object to the Magistrate Judge's
recommended decision and on August 27, 2019, the Court
affirmed it. Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of
the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 68).
The Recommended Decision: The Facts
understand the basis of the motion in limine, it is essential
to understand the motion to suppress and the recommended
decision. According to the recommended decision,
motion to suppress involved the following people, each at
so-called Indian Township, in the town of Princeton,
Washington County, Maine:
(1) Alex Nicholas: Chief of Police for the Indian Township
Police Department, brother of Dolores Acheson, and uncle of
(2) Dolores Acheson: sister of Chief Nicholas, mother of
Heather Sabattus, and grandmother to Heather Sabattus'
(3) Jessica Dana: a woman babysitting Heather Sabattus'
children at Heather Sabattus' mobile home on the
(4) Heather Sabattus: Dolores Acheson's daughter, Chief
Nicholas' niece, and owner of the mobile home;
(5) Carlos Pemberton: an African-American male who was
staying at Heather Sabattus' mobile home;
(6) Indian Township Police Officers Barnard, McCook and
(7) Heidi Sockabasin: a friend of Heather Sabattus who was
present in the Sabattus mobile home at the time of the police
entry and search; and
(8) Nevaeh Dana: Heather Sabattus' daughter and Dolores
Acheson's granddaughter who was present at the Sabattus
mobile home at the time of the police entry and search.
events leading to the search and seizure of evidence on March
26, 2018, began a few days before, when Heather Sabattus was
arrested on a warrant. Chief Nicholas, Ms. Sabattus'
uncle, arrested her, and this arrest left Delores