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Commonwealth v. Jeannis

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

August 31, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
STANLEY JEANNIS

          Heard: January 11, 2018.

         Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on June 11, 2015.

         A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Robert N. Tochka, J., and the cases were tried before Raffi N. Yessayan, J.

          Jane Larmon White for the defendant.

          Ian MacLean, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Rubin, Sacks, & Wendlandt, JJ.

          RUBIN, J.

         The defendant was convicted of possession of a class A substance (heroin) and possession of a class B substance (cocaine), and he now appeals. The issue he raises involves application of the rule announced in Rodriques v. Furtado, 410 Mass. 878, 888 (1991) (Furtado), allowing the manual search of a body cavity only with a warrant "issued by the authority of a judge, on a strong showing of particularized need supported by a high degree of probable cause," to a circumstance where police seek to remove an item partially protruding from an arrestee's rectum.

         Background.

         After a hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress, the motion judge found the following facts. At the police station after his arrest, the defendant complained that he did not feel well because he had swallowed "fifties." Lieutenant David Callahan of the Revere police department, to whom he complained, understood "fifties" to refer to fifty dollar bags of heroin or cocaine. Callahan did not believe him because the defendant was not exhibiting signs of a drug overdose, and Callahan thought that the defendant was feigning illness. Nevertheless, Callahan followed protocol and summoned medical assistance.

         The defendant sat on a bench during the booking process. Callahan saw that he sat oddly, leaning to one side. The defendant told Callahan that he might throw up, so Callahan brought him into a nearby cell that had a sink and toilet.

         Callahan noticed that the defendant had an unusual gait as he walked to the cell, and that he was not walking "normally." The defendant moved slowly, was rigid and tense, and was "clenching his buttocks area." Callahan believed that he might have something secreted in that area, which could be a potential safety risk.

         Callahan asked Officer Joseph Singer to accompany the defendant and Callahan to the eight foot by eight foot cell. Callahan ordered the defendant to remove his clothing. Reluctantly, the defendant removed his shirt, pants, and socks. He became argumentative when asked to remove his underpants.

         Callahan noticed that the defendant, while wearing only underwear, continued to clench his buttocks and attempted to shield his backside from Callahan's and Singer's view. Singer concluded that the defendant was taking a fighting stance. Callahan became concerned that the defendant might be hiding a weapon. ...


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