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United States v. Clark

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 3, 2018

JOSEPH E. CLARK, Defendant, Appellee.


          Peter J. Cyr for appellant.

          Julia M. Lipez, Assistant U.S. Attorney, with whom Richard W. Murphy, Acting U.S. Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

          Before Lynch, Stahl, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          STAHL, Circuit Judge.

         Joseph Clark appeals from the district court's denial of his motion to suppress drug evidence found on his person during a traffic stop. Clark claims that after Officer Christopher McGoon stopped a vehicle in which Clark was a passenger for a traffic violation, McGoon unreasonably extended the duration of the traffic stop and thereby violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. Clark also challenges the district court's ruling that the drug evidence found during the resulting patdown search, which the government concedes was unlawful, did not need to be excluded because of the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. After careful consideration, we affirm.


         On July 20, 2015, McGoon, a Saco Police Department officer, stopped a vehicle for erratic driving and for running a red light. At the time of the stop, McGoon had been with the Saco Police Department for approximately one year and had previously served in the military. Megan Maietta was driving the vehicle and Clark was her sole passenger.

         McGoon requested identification from Maietta, and she provided her Maine driver's license and a damaged copy of her car's registration. McGoon then asked Clark if he had any identification. Clark said he did not have a Maine identification, although he claimed he had had an identification issued by the state of Georgia, but he did not have it with him because he had lost it. McGoon asked Clark how long he had lived in Maine, and Clark answered five years. Clark identified himself as "Joseph Leo Clark." Clark volunteered that his birthdate was August 6, 1986.

         McGoon returned to talking with Maietta. According to McGoon, if Clark thereafter had remained silent, he would have made no further inquiry into Clark's identity. However, Clark interrupted the conversation with Maietta and voluntarily provided McGoon with his social security number and age. McGoon heard the first three numbers of Clark's social security number as "256, " but recordings of the stop show that Clark actually said a number beginning with "257." Clark said he was twenty-six years old, which was inconsistent with the birthdate he had provided shortly before.[1] Below, McGoon testified that Clark was "speaking softly and looking straight ahead rather than turning to look at him, " and that he was having "considerable difficulty hearing [Clark], particularly when there was passing traffic, and had to ask him several times to speak up." United States v. Clark, No. 2:15-CR-187-GZS, 2016 WL 3945131, at *2 (D. Me. July 19, 2016), aff'd, No. 2:15-CR-187-GZS, 2016 WL 4532062 (D. Me. Aug. 29, 2016).

         Three-and-a-half minutes after the initial stop, McGoon went to his cruiser to verify Maietta's and Clark's identities. McGoon quickly verified Maietta's information, but his electronic search of the database found no match for Clark. Based on the lack of a match, as well as Clark's failure to have Maine identification despite having been a resident for five years, McGoon became concerned that Clark was trying to conceal his identity.

         Six-and-a-half minutes after the initial stop, McGoon returned to the car to confirm Clark's information. McGoon spent one minute asking Clark for additional information about where he lived and any past contact he may have had with police. During this follow-up questioning, Officer Adam Linden arrived at the scene. After one minute of questioning, Clark told McGoon that his birthdate was August 25, 1986. Surprised by the different birthdate, McGoon asked Clark to confirm the date a third time. Clark became agitated and said, in a louder voice, "August 5, of '86." Clark, 2016 WL 3945131, at *2.

         Soon thereafter, Officer Robyn Stankevitz radioed McGoon and Linden with a partial match for a Joseph Eugene Clark, a resident of Scarborough, Maine with a birthdate of August 25, 1983 and with three active arrest warrants, who fit Clark's general description.

         Having received this information, McGoon and Linden returned to the car once again and asked Clark to repeat his identifying information. Clark provided the same social security number he provided earlier, but this time, McGoon heard Clark begin with the numbers "257." Still mistakenly believing Clark had previously offered a social security number beginning with "256, " McGoon accused Clark of providing false information and told him that he was going to be detained "until we can figure this out." Clark, 2016 WL 3945131, at *3. McGoon ordered Clark out of the car and handcuffed him. Neither officer frisked Clark or noticed ...

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