United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
JOHN T. FOWLKES, Jr., District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendant Jeremy Matlock's Motion to Suppress that was filed on June 23, 2014. (ECF No. 24). On August 4, 2014, the matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636 (b)(1)(A). (ECF No. 33). An evidentiary hearing on the motion to suppress was held on September 25, 2014. (ECF No. 38). On October 24, 2014, the Magistrate Judge entered her report and recommendation. The undersigned Court granted the Defendant additional time in which to file his objections to the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation and Defendant's objections were filed on December 22, 2014. (ECF No. 48). On January 5, 2015, the Government filed its response to Defendant's objections to the report and recommendation. (ECF No. 49). For the following reasons, the Court finds the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation should be adopted and Defendant's Motion to Suppress the Evidence seized during the seizure and search should be DENIED.
I. FACTUAL HISTORY
The Court adopts in full the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings of fact. In summary, undercover investigations of Jeremy Matlock began on or about February 22, 2013. The Defendant was arrested on May 22, 2013. On March 19, 2014, a grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Defendant Jeremy Matlock with: 1) engaging in a money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1957 and, 2) the knowing and intentional possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1). Based on the events leading to his arrest and indictment, Defendant filed the pending motion to suppress the evidence alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (ECF No. 24). After hearing testimony from the witnesses and argument of counsel, the matter was taken under advisement. On October 24, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued her proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law, recommending that the motion to suppress be denied. (ECF No. 38).
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A United States District Court Judge may designate a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct evidentiary hearings and submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law for disposition by the District Judge of certain motions including motions to suppress evidence in criminal cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B); U.S. v. Houston, Case No. 3:13-10-DCRF, 2013 WL 3975405 *1 (E.D. Tenn. July 29, 2013). The District Judge may accept, reject, or modify in whole or in part, the Magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations. U.S. v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-675 (1980), reh'g den ., 448 U.S. 916 (1980). See 28 U.S.C. §636 (b)(1)(B).
In criminal cases, the District Judge is required to make a de novo determination of those portions of a Magistrate's report and recommendation to which specific objections are made regarding the dispositive matters contained the report and recommendation. Id. at 674-675. While most actions by a Magistrate Judge are reviewed for clear error, proposed recommendations on motions to suppress evidence in criminal matters are subject to de novo review. U.S. v. Quinney, 238 Fed.Appx. 150, 152 (6th Cir. 2007); U.S. v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001)(holding that a magistrate judge's ruling on dispositive motions such as those for summary judgment or the suppression of evidence must be reviewed de novo by the district court).
In her report and recommendation, the Magistrate Judge examined whether any or all of the evidence obtained from Defendant's seizure, search and detention on May 22, 2013 should be suppressed. The Defendant contends that on May 22, 2013, while law enforcement officers were in the process of executing search warrants at four of six houses named in the warrants,  detectives drove onto a sidewalk, hit him with their vehicle and assaulted him. The Defendant asserts that during his seizure, he was injured, handcuffed, and searched by the officers who found the drugs. The Defendant contends that because he was not inside any of the premises associated with the search warrants, engaged in illegal activity, and without any active and outstanding arrest warrants, his detention and seizure were both unlawful, thereby justifying his motion to suppress all of the evidence seized that day. (ECF No. 24, pp. 1-3).
During the motion hearing, the Magistrate Judge addressed the basis for the warrantless stop and subsequent arrest. (ECF No. 45, pp. 5-6). The Magistrate Judge heard testimony from witnesses that included a Shelby County Sheriff's Detective Jeremy Drewery and three witnesses for the defense, Clarence Burse, Lawyer Jones, and Clifton Bowles.
The Magistrate Judge concluded that Detective Jeremy Drewery's testimony was credible, while finding the defense witnesses' testimony questionable. Regarding the motion to suppress, the Magistrate Judge determined that: 1) it was unnecessary to determine if Matlock was detained in the immediate vicinity of the premises that were to be searched since he was under arrest prior to the execution of the search warrants; 2) Matlock's warrantless arrest was based on probable cause instead of incident to the execution of the search warrants and; 3) probable cause was rightfully established based on the detectives' observations of Matlock's prior narcotics sales and their reasonable belief that he was engaged in a third drug sale on May 22, 2013. (ECF No. 38, pp. 16-20).
The Magistrate Judge also addressed the Bailey factors in her report and recommendation, concluding those factors were also satisfied as Matlock was arrested within eyesight of the premises to be searched. The Magistrate Judge noted that said proximity to these properties offered Defendant a chance to either enter the property or flee the area entirely. (ECF No. 38, p. 16). See Bailey v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1031, 1042 (2013). Finally, the Magistrate Judge found that although probable cause existed to arrest Matlock, his initial detention was a reasonable investigative Terry stop. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. at 20-21 (1968). Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the motion to suppress be denied in full based on the totality of the circumstances, finding specific facts supported the officers' actions. (ECF No. 38, p. 16-22).
The Defendant argues that recent decisions since Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), restrict detaining an individual during the execution of a search warrant beyond the premises to be searched. (ECF No. 24, pp. 2-3). Matlock states that because he was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the premises listed in the search warrant, his detention was unlawful. Notably, Defendant argues that: 1) the detention of an occupant beyond the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched is impermissible; 2) the three factors recognized in Summers were not present; 3) justification for the subsequent seizure and search away from the premises did not exist; and 4) reasonable suspicion for an investigatory Terry stop did not exist.
Defendant raises the following specific objections to the Magistrate Judge's proposed factual findings: 1) cocaine was found on the Defendant's person; 2) Detective Drewery's testimony was credible over the three defense witnesses' testimony; 3) the location of Defendant's arrest was in front of 1493 South; and finally 4) other incidental arguments regarding the unrecorded surveillance evidence of transactions and telephone conversations between the Defendant and the confidential informant. (ECF No. 48, pp. 2-3; Tr. 45, pp. 24-26).
In response to Defendant's objections, the Government contends that Matlock was lawfully detained in close proximity to the premises to be searched as permitted under Michigan v. Summers . See Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. at 694-95; Bailey v. U.S . 133 S.Ct. at 1042. (ECF No. 49, pp. 4-7). Moreover, the Government asserts that Matlock's arrest was lawful based on probable cause established by the two prior drug sales and Matlock's involvement in a third sale on May 22, 2013, as well as the detectives' own personal observations. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. at 1. Finally, the Government maintains that the officers' reasonable suspicion that Matlock was engaged in illegal activity justified the Terry stop. (ECF No. 49, pp. 4-7).
1. Defendant's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Factual Findings:
1. The Locations of the Narcotics and Defendant's Arrest
Defendant objects to the Magistrate's finding that cocaine was found on Defendant's person instead of "beside the defendant." (ECF No. 48, p. 2). In the motion to suppress, the Defendant asserts that while he "was standing, handcuffed, bloodied and in his underwear, officers found drugs on or about the Defendant's person." (ECF No. 24, p. 2). A conviction for possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute can be based upon a showing of actual or constructive possession. U.S. v. Leary, 422 Fed.Appx. 502, 507 (6th Cir. 2011) quoting U.S. v. Hill, 142 F.3d 305, 312 (6th Cir. 1998). Constructive possession requires evidence supporting the conclusion that the Defendant had the ability to exercise knowing dominion and control over the items in question. Leary, 422 Fed.Appx. at 507.
During the hearing, Detective Drewery testified that, as they approached, Matlock was coming from behind 1485 South Street where he was bumped by the officers' vehicle when he stepped out into the street. (ECF No. 45, p. 15). Once the Defendant was bumped by the vehicle, the officer noted that four to six bags of a powdery substance, later testing positive as five ounces of cocaine, fell from Matlock's shorts to the ground. ( Id at. 18; Exh. 1). Whether the drugs were found on the ground nearby, under the Defendant or on his person does not refute that Matlock was in constructive if not actual possession of cocaine. Leary, 422 Fed.Appx. at 507. Therefore, Defendant's objection to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the drugs were on Matlock's person is overruled.
Regarding Matlock's location at the time of his arrest in reference to the addresses on the search warrants, the officer testified that he was "in the street directly in the middle of all four of them." ( Id . at 17). Clarence Burse, a neighbor of Matlock's who lives at 1495 South Street, also testified during the hearing that Matlock was arrested in front of 1498 South Street. ( Id . at 100-101). The Magistrate Judge also noted that the testimony was unpersuasive that Matlock was arrested three houses down near 1485 South, instead of in front of 1493 South. ( Id . at pp. 174, 178). Again, there is no reason to discount the Magistrate Judge's factual finding that Matlock was arrested in front of 1493 South.
The transcript indicates that the Magistrate Judge examined this issue extensively, viewing photographic exhibits and constructing her own diagram of the streets, houses and intersections at issue. Counsel for both parties agreed that her map was an accurate depiction of the area. During the hearing, the following exchange occurred:
THE COURT: Well, he was taken down, according to your witness, I believe, in front of 1493, the driveway between 1493; and I believe, that's one of the properties that was to be searched. I mean, the picture we have Exhibit 1is at the driveway of 1493.
So, I look back and which is between-
MR. SCHOLL: That's between 1485 and ...