United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney BYRON G. CHATFIELD SUZANNE
A. MILES Assistant United States Attorneys for Plaintiff
HAY Federal Public Defender JESSICA GREENLICK SNYDER
Assistant Federal Public Defender Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant John Philip
Stirling's Motion (#37) to Dismiss. For the reasons
summarized below and stated on the record during oral
argument on December 18, 2019, the Court
DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
following facts are taken from the parties' filings
related to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
April 9, 2019, a Coast Guard vessel (the cutter Alert) made
visual contact with a ship (the Mandalay) piloted by
Defendant John Phillip Stirling. The Mandalay was sailing on
the high seas, and it had a hull marking naming Seattle as
its home port. It was not, however, flying a flag and did not
have any visible registration numbers.
Guard boarding team approached alongside the Mandalay, turned
on its light and siren, and used a loudspeaker to demand
contact with the Mandalay's crew. The team announced:
"This is the United States Coast Guard. Come out with
your hands in the air." No one complied. The boarding
team then contacted the Mandalay through VHF Marine radio,
and Defendant responded. Coast Guard Officer Caitlin Piker
told Defendant to come to the deck of the Mandalay, but
Defendant stated he could not walk due to the weather
conditions and stated he was pumping the bilge. Officer Piker
asked Defendant for his ship's nationality. Defendant
claimed Canadian nationality for the boat and
Defendant's nationality claim conflicted with the
Mandalay's hull marking that named Seattle as its home
port, the Coast Guard authorized the boarding team to board
and to attempt to determine the vessel's nationality. The
boarding team alerted Defendant of its intent to board and
asked him to reposition the Mandalay to allow safe access.
Defendant did not respond and did not move the ship.
Coast Guard officers boarded the Mandalay. They announced
their presence, but Defendant remained below deck. The boarding
team knocked on the hatch to the main cabin, announced their
presence again, and opened the hatch. They saw Defendant
lying on the floor of the main cabin. At some point Defendant
got up and tried to open a drawer. Defendant stated he was
looking for the Mandalay's documentation.
Piker asked Defendant to sit in a seat while the boarding
team conducted a safety sweep. Officer Piker then began
questioning Defendant to determine the vessel's
nationality. According to the government, Defendant "was
slurring his speech[, ] . . . had a difficult time answering
the questions, [and was] getting more sluggish and
unresponsive to questions." At one point during the
interview the boat rolled and Defendant fell off his seat
onto the deck. Defendant said he had not hurt himself, but he
stayed on the floor and appeared to fall asleep. After the
boarding team tried unsuccessfully to rouse Defendant, they
called in a medic.
medic diagnosed Defendant with a drug overdose and gave him
NARCAN. The medic, however, was unable to revive Defendant
and, therefore, ordered him to be taken back to the Alert for
further treatment. Defendant was ultimately airlifted to a
hospital in Astoria, Oregon.
boarding team remained on the Mandalay to look for a Hull
Identification Number (HIN) and/or registration documents.
The medic asked the team also to look for information
identifying Defendant and anything that might explain his
condition. The boarding team found a wallet with
Defendant's Canadian driver's license, cards with
information "relating to a hospital and diabetes,"
and a Ziploc bag containing a green leafy substance.
point the boarding team saw and inspected almost 30 jugs of
yellow-tinted liquid that were stored on both sides of the
Mandalay's outer deck. An ion scan swab and a test with a
Narcotics Identification Kit (NIK) identified the liquid in
the jugs as methamphetamine.
the Mandalay was towed to Portland, Oregon, and was searched
pursuant to a warrant. The search revealed the Mandalay was
carrying a ...