Michael J. Onifer, III, PA 147 East Main Street, Elkton, MD 21921
Attorney and Counselor at Law











        CASE NO.  07-K-05-000048 IN


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On December 16, 2004, at approximately 9:02 a.m. Sergeant Daniel W. Fairburn was stationed in the crossover at the 101-mile marker in Cecil County.  At that time, Sergeant Fairburn allegedly observed a gray Buick LeSabre operated by a young, black male.  Sergeant Fairburn began pursuing the vehicle, and activated his emergency equipment, immediately initiating a stop on the shoulder at the 98.9-mile marker.  Sergeant Fairburn informed the driver that the reason for the stop is that he did not have his seat belt on.  Pinnock stated that he had his seatbelt on and did in fact have his seatbelt on when he passed Sergeant Fairburn. 

During the next two minutes from 9:03 to 9:05 a.m. when Fairburn returned to his patrol car he received Pinnock’s driver’s license and registration and inquired about his travel plans, length of stay and other information. 

At 9:05 a.m. Trooper Fairburn returns to his patrol car and runs Astely Pinnock’s driver’s license, registration, and reviews his rental car information. 

At 9:11.13 a.m. a response from the barrack indicates that the driver’s license is valid through 2009.

At 9:12.50 a.m. another trooper arrives on the scene and interrogates Pinnock.

Between 9:13 a.m. and 9:18 a.m., an additional five minutes lapsed during which time, Trooper Fairburn and Cantalano, continued to interrogate the driver and inquired for a second time as to his travel plans.

And at 9:18 a.m. a K-9 Unit arrives and walks around the vehicle.  The dogs circled the vehicle two times and then sat down at the trunk and immediately received a reward from Trooper Cantalano.


The issues presented in the case at bar are similar to the issues decided by the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in upholding a citizens’ protections guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The Maryland Court decisions protect a traveling citizens interest in being free from unreasonable searches and seizures based on less than reasonable articulable suspicion or searches that result in a second stop or prolonged detention.


Here, we have an immediate shift in the focus of the traffic stop to a contraband/narcotics investigation. The Supreme Court of the United States on January 24, 2005 issued a decision in Illinois v. Callabes, upholding the State’s right to conduct K-9 search during a traffic stop as long as it is not the result of a prolonged detention. 

The climate in the State of Maryland at this time is similar to that of 1995, when the Supreme Court issued the decision in the Whren case.  In that decision the court stated that the subjective intent of an Officer was of no consequence in stopping a traveling motorist.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland placed some restrictions on the Whren decision in a line of cases including Ferris, Charity, Snow, and Whitehead.

The issue is whether or not the stop resulted in a prolonged detention. This happens when a motorist is delayed or prolonged after the time necessary to issue a warning or traffic ticket. In the case of Prior v. Maryland 122 Maryland App 674, The Court states that a person stopped for a minor traffic violation can not be detained at the scene of a stop longer than it takes to issue a citation for a traffic violation that the motorist has committed. In Munafo v. State, 105 Maryland App 662, The Court states that after the police officer learned that the license and registration were in order, the additional brief delay, was not supported by reasonable articuable suspicion and was entirely unjustified.  It is the defense’s contention that Astley Pinnock was detained beyond the time necessary it took to issue the seatbelt citation or warning.  He was stopped according to the videotape at 9:02 a.m. for an alleged seatbelt violation.  At 9:11.13 a.m., barracks responded and said Pinnock’s license was valid through 2009.  Once again, it is the defense’s contention at this point that the driver should have been allowed to continue his travels. 

State of Maryland vs. Astley Pinnock
CASE NO. 07-K-05-000048 IN
Page 3


Based on the aforesaid reasons, Astley Pinnock’s Motion to Suppress should be granted.

Michael J. Onifer, III
147 E. Main Street
Elkton, MD 21921
Attorney for the Defendant


I HEREBY CERTIFY on this _____day of ____________, 2005, that on April 15, 2005 the forgoing memorandum was hand delivered to the court and Michael J. Halter, Assistant State’s Attorney.

Michael J. Onifer, III

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Copyright © 2006 by Michael J. Onifer, III, PA 147 East Main Street, Elkton, MD 21921. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.

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