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United States v. McAdams

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 25, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
KENNETH SACCO MCADAMS,

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (ECF NO. 10)

          MICHAEL J. SENG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence seized in the course of a stop and seizure of Defendant in Yosemite National Park on July 23, 2016. For the reasons stated below, the motion will be denied.

         I. Procedural Background

         Defendant is charged with three counts in a criminal complaint filed against him in this Court on August 17, 2016. Count 1 alleges that Defendant was driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in violation of 36 Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) Section 4.23(a)(1). Count 2 alleges that Defendant's alcohol level at the time exceeded the 0.80 grams presumptive level set forth in 36 CFR Section 4.23(a)(2). Count 3 alleges a failure to comply with the directions of a traffic control device in violation of 36 CFR Section 4.12.

         Defendant was arraigned on August 30, 2016. The Federal Defender was appointed to represent him, and he pled not guilty to all charges. A status conference was set for November 1, 2016, but later continued to December 6, 2016.

         On November 30, 2016, the Court accepted and approved a Stipulation by the parties to set a schedule for filing, briefing, and hearing Defendant's proposed motion to suppress. The motion was filed December 2, 2016, opposed by the United States on January 5, 2017, and ultimately set for an evidentiary hearing on January 31, 2017.

         At the January 31, 2017 hearing, testimony was taken from the two Law Enforcement Rangers involved at various times in the stop and arrest of Defendant. Defendant was not present or otherwise available for examination. However, he sought to introduce his sworn written declaration, filed on the docket as ECF No. 11. The Court ordered further briefing on the issues of whether and to what extent Defendant's declaration should be admitted and considered by the Court and whether there was reasonable suspicion to stop a driver who had ceased a perceived law violation before being stopped by law enforcement.

         Defendant submitted his Supplemental Memorandum of Points and Authorities on these issues on February 14, 2017. The United States reply was filed February 28, 2017.

         The matter is deemed submitted.

         II. Relevant Facts

         A. The Scene

         The following facts are relevant and, for purposes of this motion, undisputed unless otherwise indicated:

         At about 4:00 pm on Saturday, July 23, 2016, Defendant Kenneth McAdams was driving his vehicle, a blue Mercedes passenger vehicle with two female passengers, eastbound on Southside Drive between Sentinel Creek and the “Four Mile Trail” in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park.

         At that time and place, the said Sout hside Drive was a one-way street limited to eastbound traffic. It had two marked eastbou nd lanes. However, the Park Service had a policy, in effect that day, to maintain one lane exclusively for busses and emergency vehicles when visitation was high and traffic dense. Thus, at this time and place only the left lane was open to visitor passenger vehicles and the right lane was signed as a bus lane only. There is no dispute at this point that, as the Law Enforcement Rangers testified at the suppression hearing, the prohibition against passenger traffic traveling in the right lane was clear and well-marked in at least three locations an eastbound driver would have to pass before getting to the point at which Defendant was stopped by law enforcement.

         At the time of this incident, traffic in the left lane was “stop and go, ” backed up some distance to the west, and traveling at an estimated five to ten miles per hour. The right, bus, lane was relatively open and could accommodate travel at a rate of about 30 to 40 miles per hour.

         Rangers Jason Montoya and Jesse McGahey were on bicycle patrol at the time. Both were traveling against traffic, westbound in the right, bus, lane, primarily to ensure compliance with the closure of that lane to passenger cars. McGahey was an estimated ¼ to ½ mile ahead, further west, of Montoya.

         B. Law Enforcement ...


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