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United States v. Thompson

United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Western Division

May 11, 2015

ROY THOMPSON, Defendant.


John T. Fowlkes, Jr. United States District Judge

Before the Court comes Defendant Roy Thompson’s Motion to Suppress filed on December 31, 2014. (ECF No. 17). The Government filed a Response in Opposition on January 14, 2015, (ECF No. 18), and this Court referred the Motion to Suppress to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (ECF No. 20). On March 24, 2015, the Magistrate Judge held a hearing on the motion. (ECF No. 26). The Magistrate Judge issued his Report and Recommendation that Defendant’s Motion to Suppress be denied on April 21, 2015. (ECF No. 28). On May 6, 2015, the Defendant filed Objections. (ECF No. 31).

For the following reasons, the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation should be ADOPTED, and Defendant’s Motion to Suppress DENIED.


With the parties filing no objections to the Magistrate Judge’s proposed facts, [1] the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings of fact as the factual history. (ECF No. 28 at 1-4). The Magistrate Judge found the officers’ testimony credible and the Defendant did not testify at the suppression hearing of March 24, 2015. (ECF No. 28 at 2); see also (ECF No. 26).


The district court has the authority to “designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court, of any motion.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). “The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

The district court has appellate jurisdiction over any decisions the magistrate judge issues pursuant to such a referral. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72. The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the matter considered by the magistrate judge. See Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3) (“The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly objected to.”); Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App’x 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003) (“A district court normally applies a ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to law’ standard of review for nondispositive preliminary measures. A district court must review dispositive motions under the de novo standard.” (internal citations omitted)).


A. The Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation

In his Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge examined whether the Defendant’s Motion to Suppress should be granted. (ECF No. 17). The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Motion to Suppress be denied. (ECF No. 28 at 4-11). Specifically, the Magistrate Judge’s proposed conclusions of law are as follows:

1. Consent to Search

The Magistrate Judge concluded that the officers had consent to search the premises. (ECF No. 28 at 9). The Fourth Amendment requires that searches have “‘prior approval by judge or magistrate . . . subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.’” Id. at 5 (quoting Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 338 (2009) (quoting Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967))). A “consented-to search[]” is among such exceptions. Id. (quoting Reynolds v. City of Anchorage, 379 F.3d 358, 370 (6th Cir. 2004)). “Whether consent was free and voluntary as to waive the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment is ‘a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances.’” Id. at 6 (quoting United States v. Carter, 378 F.3d 584, 587 (6th Cir. 2004) (quoting Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 227 (1973))). Based on Chaka Ford’s verbal and written consent statement, and the lack of evidence of coercion or misunderstanding, the Magistrate Judge determined that Ms. Ford’s consent “was given knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently.” Id.

Further, the Magistrate Judge determined that the officers’ reliance on Ms. Ford’s consent was objectively reasonable. Id. at 7 (The “determination of consent to enter must ‘be judged against an objective standard: would the facts available to the officer at the moment . . . warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the consenting party had authority over the premises?” (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Illinois v. Rodriquez, 497 U.S. 177, 188-89 (1990) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21-22 (1968))). Ms. Ford answered the door and stated that she was the leaseholder of the premises, and she accompanied the officers ...

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