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United States v. Garcia-Zavala

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 25, 2019

UNITED STATES, Appellee,
v.
MARIO ERNESTO GARCIA-ZAVALA, Defendant, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE Hon. George Z. Singal, U.S. District Judge

          Robert C. Andrews, with whom Robert C. Andrews Esquire P.C. was on brief, for appellant.

          Julia M. Lipez, Assistant U.S. Attorney, with whom Halsey B. Frank, U.S. Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

          Before Lynch, Circuit Judge, Souter, [*] Associate Justice, and Kayatta, Circuit Judge.

          LYNCH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         This case concerns the denial of pretrial motions brought by a defendant attacking his conviction for illegal reentry after removal from the United States.

         Mario Ernesto Garcia-Zavala was a passenger in a van stopped in Maine for seatbelt violations. The Maine State Trooper conducting the stop spoke with the driver and passengers, several of whom did not appear to be wearing their seatbelts or to speak English. The Trooper contacted an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Officer for help identifying the passengers.

         When asked for his identification, Garcia-Zavala produced a consular ID card. An ICE Officer ran that ID through ICE databases and determined that Garcia-Zavala was suspected of illegal reentry. When ICE officers arrived at the scene, they placed Garcia-Zavala in administrative custody. Thirteen days later, he was charged with one count of illegally entering the United States after removal, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a), and made his initial court appearance. Garcia-Zavala was convicted after a bench trial.

         His appeal essentially raises two issues: (1) whether the district court erred in not dismissing his indictment for delay in presentment, in violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(a), and (2) whether the district court erred in not suppressing information that law enforcement had gathered about him, including his identity.

         We affirm the district court's denial of Garcia-Zavala's motion to dismiss and motion to suppress.

         I.

         The district court helpfully detailed a minute-by-minute account of the traffic stop. United States v. Garcia-Zavala, 2018 WL 1091973, at *1-4 (D. Me. Feb. 28, 2018). We summarize that account here.

         On September 9, 2017, Maine State Trooper Robert Burke III observed a van whose front-seat passenger appeared not to be wearing a seatbelt, a violation of Maine law. Id. at *1 (citing Me. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 2081(3-A)). Burke pulled the van over at 12:20 p.m. and asked the driver for identification. Id. He then moved to the other side of the van to ask the passengers questions. Id. After receiving minimal responses, Burke asked if anyone in the van spoke English. Id. Burke remarked that several passengers did not appear to be wearing seatbelts and did not seem to speak English. Id.

         Burke returned to his car and called Elliot Arsenault, an ICE Deportation Officer. Id. at *2. Burke told Arsenault that he had stopped a van for a seatbelt violation and that he thought Arsenault should "come out" because he believed that the stop would "lead to people from out of this country." Id. Burke said that he intended to issue tickets for seatbelt violations, so he needed ICE assistance in identifying the van's occupants. Id. ...


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