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Judge Suppresses Traffic Stop Based Solely on Witness Description of Car

The Salem News

July 28, 2010

PEABODY, MA — When Peabody police arrested a pair of brothers in an early morning robbery of a Route 1 motel last September, a department spokesman praised it as good teamwork by officers in two parts of the city.

But last month, a Salem Superior Court judge tossed out the stop of the suspects’ car and the items found inside — including a gold neck chain and cash taken in the holdup — finding that police had no legal basis to stop the car when they did.

Prosecutors are now deciding whether to appeal Judge David Lowy’s decision to the Appeals Court. If they do not, or if they lose a further appeal, they’ll have to drop the unarmed robbery charges against Clovicel Davis, 29, of Beverly and Curtis Davis, 37, of Salem for lack of evidence.

Early on the morning of Sept. 10, police on Route 1 went to the Plaza Motel to take a report of a robbery from a clerk, who said two men came in, one with his hand in his pocket as if to suggest he had a gun, and pushed the clerk toward the front door, as the second man grabbed the clerk’s chain.

While the officers were taking the report from the clerk, a woman some five miles away on Central Street, near the downtown, called to report that two men, who had been in a light-colored car, were involved in a violent fight outside her home.

The officer responding to the call about the fight spotted a light-colored car, which he believed to be the one in the fight, near Peabody District Court. He stopped the car to investigate and saw money in plain view, which police later tied to the robbery.

Police justified the stop by saying that it was the only car in the area and that it matched the description given by the caller reporting the fight.

Lowy, in his decision, found that the officer had no way of knowing if it was the only car in the area, because he was on Lowell Street when he got the call and wouldn’t have been able to see any other cars turning off or onto Central Street.

That means there could have been any number of light-colored cars being driven in the area at that point, the judge found.

Prosecutors argued that the Appeals Court has previously upheld a stop when it involved the only car on the road. But Lowy said that case involved a stretch of state highway with minimal traffic, as opposed to a busy residential and business district with many side streets. Further, the judge noted that the officer apparently did not try to determine whether there were other cars in the area.

“There are many busy streets in the area of Peabody Square where light-colored cars travel during all hours,” Lowy (who grew up in Peabody) wrote. “There was nothing in the 911 call to distinguish the car the police stopped from any other light-colored car with two people in it.”


To see more of The Salem News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.salemnews.com/.

Copyright © 2010, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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  • 1211120858_max50

    FreezeP

    over 1 year ago

    1456 Comments

    WOW, this almost make me believe that the judge is crooked. That is one jacked up judge!

  • Images_7a8ec2bec1e1bf7f38b54b52a8c9c453_max50

    gcoleman

    over 1 year ago

    2384 Comments

    2010 ?

  • Images_7a8ec2bec1e1bf7f38b54b52a8c9c453_max50

    gcoleman

    over 1 year ago

    2384 Comments

    now regards to article>good work good judgement with in the law and scope of investigation> judge needs to get a clue

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  • Dsc_0030_max50

    eisenschenk117

    about 4 years ago

    216 Comments

    That truly sucks. wow

  • Memorialbadge_max50

    MAYES969

    about 4 years ago

    3608 Comments

    man this kind of stuff sucks. we work our butts off to put em in jail and the defense scoundrals get them out.

    I was once involved in civil issue where I sued someone. I looked over at my attorney, who was also a local defense attorney and asked him: "Since your on my dime, I gotta know. How in the heck can you take some POS rapist or drug dealer and defend them knowing they are guilty? His reply was... I had to pay off my student loans, and thats why now I only do realestate law. You defend because thats where the money is.

  • 2008_masonic_coin_max50

    skanea1

    about 4 years ago

    958 Comments

    Did the Judge used to be a defense attorney. He seems to have forgoten he's a Judge. Also it appears he has no idea what LEOs have to do in their job. BAD BAD BAD

  • Police_car_max50

    MidnightMike

    about 4 years ago

    470 Comments

    Prosecutors need to appeal this one.

  • 50_bkemblem_sq90_max50

    mjones0089

    about 4 years ago

    408 Comments

    Double..WOW

  • Thinker_max50

    darsavmo

    about 4 years ago

    11356 Comments

    WOW does not even describe my thoughts. This definitely needs to be appealed...

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    djs2v

    about 4 years ago

    5628 Comments

    WOW!!!

  • 2011_pics_067_max50

    JeMan

    about 4 years ago

    514 Comments

    Wow!!!!!! that judge should be ashamed of himself. I bet if the victim was a family member his ruling would have been different. It's always a double standard with these liberal just look at our president.

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