Paulino v. State

Citation924 A.2d 308,399 Md. 341
Decision Date04 June 2007
Docket NumberNo. 75, September Term, 2006.,75, September Term, 2006.
PartiesJohn August PAULINO v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Allison E. Pierce, Asst. Public Defender (Nancy S. Forster, Public Defender, on brief), for petitioner.

Edward J. Kelley, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Douglas F. Gansler, Atty. Gen., on brief), for respondent.

Argued before BELL, C.J., RAKER, CATHELL, HARRELL, BATTAGLIA, GREENE and ALAN M. WILNER (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.


This case requires us to consider whether a search conducted incident to an arrest is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment in light of the manner and place in which the search was conducted at a time when there were no exigent circumstances justifying the immediate search. We conclude that, under the circumstances of this case, the search of petitioner was unreasonable. Accordingly, we shall reverse the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On September 29, 2000 Detective Elliot Latchaw, and other members of the Baltimore County Police Department received information from a confidential informant who told them that later that evening petitioner, John August Paulino ("Paulino"), would be in the 1100 block of North Point Road, Dundalk, Maryland, and would be in possession of a quantity of controlled dangerous substance. The informant also advised the police that Paulino typically hides the controlled dangerous substance in the area of his buttocks. Acting on the information provided by the informant, the police established surveillance in the 1100 block of North Point Road. At the suppression hearing, Detective Latchaw described the surveillance in greater detail:

[Detective Latchaw]: He actually — we had surveillance established on the parking lot, and he was actually observed on the parking lot, and he was actually observed by myself as they pulled into the entrance to the car wash. He was seated in the passenger seat. I saw him clear as day, and I radioed real quick to everybody, this is him, he's in the passenger seat. And at that time, they actually pulled [into one of] the bays of the car wash. There's like maybe six or eight bays all away across in the line. When they pulled in, they were blocked in, and he was removed from the vehicle. And I don't know exactly how he was taken out of the vehicle or if he got out on his own, I don't know, because at that point, I was back a little ways coming up. There was a — there was a team to do all that.

* * * * * * There was also testimony describing the location of the search:

[Defense Counsel]: Is that area of Dundalk fairly busy at that time of night?

[Detective Latchaw]: Not at all. Its actually — the car wash is actually back — you pull into a parking lot, and you've got to go past an entrance to a storage facility, like those little mini storage buildings, and actually go past a — like an auto repair center. And then at the very end of this little parking lot, it's kind of like a zigzaggy entrance. Driveway kind of turns around to the left and comes back to the right, and the very back is the car wash all by itself. It's real secluded back there actually.

[Defense Counsel]: Were there any other people back there at that time around eleven-fifteen that evening other than yourself and Mr. Paulino?

[Detective Latchaw]: No, not that I — not that I can remember.

[Defense Counsel]: Yourself —

[Detective Latchaw]: Well, other units of Baltimore County Police. Right.

[Defense Counsel]: No civilian personnel?

[Detective Latchaw]: No. Nobody was washing their cars, that I can remember.

[Defense Counsel]: Is that a lighted area, dark area?

[Detective Latchaw]: Well lit.

[Defense Counsel]: Is that viewable by people in the area walking by or not really?

[Detective Latchaw]: No. No, it's way back. It's back off the road. It's real secluded.

* * * * * *

The testimony regarding the police officer's subsequent actions is less clear:

[Defense Counsel]: And you did conduct a search then, is that correct? How did you come to find the drugs?

[Detective Latchaw]: Well, when we — when Mr. Paulino was removed from the vehicle and laid on the ground, his pants were already pretty much down around his — below his butt, because I guess that's the fad, these guys like wearing their pants down real low, so it was just a matter of lifting up his shorts, and — and between his butt cheeks the drugs were — I believe one of the detectives actually put on a pair of gloves and just spread his cheeks apart a little bit and it was right there.

[Defense Counsel]: So they were not visible before you actually spread his cheeks apart, is that correct?

[Detective Latchaw]: I don't think they were.

* * * * * *

Paulino offers a slightly different version of the facts concerning the search:

[Defense Counsel]: Where was the search conducted?

[Mr. Paulino]: Inside a car wash

[Defense Counsel]: In the presence of other people or by yourself?

[Mr. Paulino]: Other people was around. It was about 12 other officers.

[Defense Counsel]: At that time, your — your anal cavity was searched. Is that correct?

[Mr. Paulino]: They had searched me in my pockets, didn't find nothing, and eventually, they came to the subject where — in my report, it states that the officer said, Mr. Paulino, why is your butt cheeks squeezed? And in further response, I said nothing. He said it again, and another officers come behind with gloves and pulled my pants down and went in my ass. Well, my cheeks. Sorry about that.

Paulino was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine. Subsequent to his arrest, Paulino filed a motion to suppress, which, following a hearing on the motion, was denied. Proceeding on an agreed statement of facts, the trial judge found Paulino guilty of possession with intent to distribute, and sentenced him as a subsequent offender, to a mandatory ten-year sentence.

On September 12, 2003, Paulino filed a petition for post conviction relief. The post conviction court granted Paulino the right to file a belated appeal. Paulino, in turn, filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, in an unreported opinion, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court. On August 21, 2006, Paulino filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which we granted.1 John August Paulino v. State of Md., 395 Md. 420, 910 A.2d 1061 (2006).

II. Standard of Review

We are asked in this appeal to review the Circuit Court's denial of Paulino's motion to suppress. "Our review of a circuit court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence, ordinarily, is limited to the evidence presented at the suppression hearing. See Ferris v. State, 355 Md. 356, 368, 735 A.2d 491, 497 (1999). Thus, we refrain from engaging in de novo fact-finding and looking at the trial record for supplemental information." Carter v. State, 367 Md. 447, 457, 788 A.2d 646, 651 (2002). We view the evidence presented at the hearing on Paulino's motion to suppress, and all reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the State. See Carter, 367 Md. at 457, 788 A.2d at 651; Scott v. State, 366 Md. 121, 143, 782 A.2d 862, 875 (2001); Riddick v. State, 319 Md. 180, 183, 571 A.2d 1239, 1240-1241 (1990).

It is well established that the State has the burden of proving the legality of a warrantless search and seizure. See Sifrit v. State, 383 Md. 77, 114, 857 A.2d 65, 86 (2004) ("[t]he ultimate burden of proving that evidence seized without a warrant should not be suppressed falls on the State" (quoting State v. Green, 375 Md. 595, 826 A.2d 486 (2003))); State v. Bell, 334 Md. 178, 191, 638 A.2d 107, 114 (1994)(noting that warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable and that "the burden of proving the applicability of an exception to the warrant requirement rests on the State"); Stackhouse v. State, 298 Md. 203, 217, 468 A.2d 333, 341 (1983) (emphasizing "that the burden of establishing exigent circumstances is on the State and that the facts and circumstances upon which the question of reasonableness depends must be viewed in light of established Fourth Amendment principles"). See also Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 455, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 2032, 29 L.Ed.2d 564, 576 (1971) (holding that "there must be a showing by those who seek exemption [from the requirements of the Fourth Amendment] that the exigencies of the situation made that course imperative. The burden is on those seeking the exemption to show the need for it.").

As this Court noted in State v. Nieves, 383 Md. 573, 581-82, 861 A.2d 62 67 (2004), "[a]lthough we extend great deference to the hearing judge's findings of fact and will not disturb them unless clearly erroneous, we review, independently, the application of the law to those facts to determine if the evidence at issue was obtained in violation of the law and, accordingly, should be suppressed."

III. Discussion
A. Fourth Amendment and Search Incident to Arrest

In support of his challenge to the validity of the search, Paulino relies on the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

U.S. Const. amend. IV. The Fourth Amendment is made applicable to Maryland through the Fourteenth Amendment, and prohibits searches that are "unreasonable under the circumstances." Nieves, 383 Md. at 583, 861 A.2d at 68. In Nieves, we noted that "it is well established that warrantless searches are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment absent some recognized exception." 383 Md. at 583, 861 A.2d at 68. See also Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 185, 110 S.Ct. 2793, 2799, ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 cases
  • Bailey v. State, 10, September Term, 2009.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Enero 2010
    ....... I. .         On the night of August 16, 2006, Officer Rodney Lewis of the Prince George's County Police Department was patrolling the 6800 block of Hawthorne Street in Landover, Maryland. The ..."It is well established that the State has the burden of proving the legality of a warrantless search and seizure." Paulino v. State, 399 Md. 341, 348, 924 A.2d 308, 312 (2007) (citing Sifrit v. State, 383 Md. 77, 114, 857 A.2d 65, 86 (2004); State v. Bell, 334 Md. ......
  • Hicks v. State, 2591, September Term, 2007.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 25 Noviembre 2009
    ...... Owens v. State, 399 Md. 388, 403, 924 A.2d 1072 (2007), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1064, 169 L.Ed.2d 813 (2008); Paulino v. State, 399 Md. 341, 348, 924 A.2d 308 (2007) (citing Carter v. State, 367 Md. 447, 457, 788 A.2d 646 (2002)), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1071, ...Crim. Law 7 § 5-622 (2002, 2006 Supp.); 8 of possessing a regulated firearm after conviction of a disqualifying crime, in violation of Md.Code Ann. Pub. Safety 9 § 5-133(b)(1) ......
  • Stokeling v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 30 Diciembre 2009
    ......v. . STATE of Maryland. . No. 1126, September Term, 2008. . Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. . December 30, 2009. ... of something at the appellant's crotch area; and that, under Paulino v. State, 399 Md. 341, 924 A.2d 308, cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1071, 128 ...211, 229, 906 A.2d 1089, cert. denied, 396 Md. 13, 912 A.2d 649 (2006). 6 See also Fitzgerald v. State, 153 Md.App. 601, 620, 837 A.2d 989 ......
  • Sinclair v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 25 Septiembre 2013
    ......STATE of Maryland. No. 1724, Sept. Term", 2011. Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. Sept. 25, 2013. .    \xC2"...On September 2, 2010, the State responded that appellant's motion did not comport with ...State, 171 Md.App. 489, 509, 910 A.2d 571 (2006). For these reasons, we are persuaded that the issue is preserved for our ...746, 130 S.Ct. 2619, 2630, 177 L.Ed.2d 216 (2010); Paulino v. State, 399 Md. 341, 349, 924 A.2d 308, cert. denied, Maryland v. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT