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United States v. Bland

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

March 14, 2018

UNITED STATES, Plaintiff,
v.
COURTNEY BLAND, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S OBJECTIONS TO THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          John T. Fowlkes, Jr. United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant Courtney Bland's Motion to Suppress filed on September 8, 2017, and the Government's Response filed on September 22, 2017. (ECF Nos. 19 and 20.) The Motion was referred to the Magistrate Judge, who held a hearing on the matter on November 3, 2017. (ECF Nos. 26.) On January 10, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation on Defendant's Motion to Suppress suggesting that the Motion should be Denied because the search and resulting seizure occurred through a valid inventory search and was based on probable cause. (ECF No. 38, 10, 13.) The Defendant filed timely Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on January 25, 2017. (ECF No. 42.)

         For the following reasons, the Court finds the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation should be ADOPTED and Defendant's Objections DENIED.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         In her Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge provides, and this Court adopts and incorporates, proposed findings of fact in this case. (ECF No. 38, 1-6.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Congress passed 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) “to relieve some of the burden on the federal courts by permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrates.” United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001). Pursuant to the provision, magistrate judges may hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the Court, except various dispositive motions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Upon hearing a pending matter, “[T]he magistrate judge must enter a recommended disposition, including, if appropriate, proposed findings of fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1); see also Baker v. Peterson, 67 F. App'x 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003). Any party who disagrees with a magistrate's proposed findings and recommendation may file written objections to the report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2).

         The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the matter considered by the magistrate judge. See Baker v. Peterson, 67 F. App'x 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted) (“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.”). Motions to suppress evidence are among the motions in criminal cases that are subject to de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(A); U.S. Fid. & Guarantee Co. v. Thomas Solvent Co., 955 F.2d 1085, 1088 (6th Cir. 1992). Upon review of the evidence, the district court may accept, reject, or modify the proposed findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. Brown v. Board of Educ., 47 F.Supp.3d 665, 674 (W.D. Tenn. 2014); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court “may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the [m]agistrate [j]udge with instructions.” Moses v. Gardner, No. 2:14-cv-2706-SHL-dkv, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29701, at *3 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 11, 2015). A district judge should adopt the findings and rulings of the magistrate judge to which no specific objection is filed. Brown, 47 F.Supp.3d at 674.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The issues presented by the Motion are whether Detectives Atkins and Nash's search of Defendant's vehicle and seizure of items therein was permitted under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and whether Defendant's statements were obtained in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (ECF No. 19, 3, 5; see also ECF No. 38, 6.)

         A. Fourth Amendment

         The Magistrate Judge recommends the denial of Defendant's Motion to Suppress because the detective's request for Defendant to get out of the car, as a result of Defendant's nervousness, was a de minimis intrusion and that after seeing a firearm upon Defendant exiting the vehicle and hearing Defendant state he was a felon, the detectives had probable cause to believe Defendant committed the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 38, 8-10.) Moreover, the Magistrate Judge found that any evidence found in Defendant's car and seized thereafter was the result of a valid inventory search. This Court agrees.

         The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated[.]” U.S. Const. amend. IV. The Fourth Amendment applies to government intrusions when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. See Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 142-43 (1978). When the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply, a warrant is generally required absent the presence of an exception to the warrant requirement. United States v. Garcia, 496 F.3d 495, 508 (6th Cir. 2007).

         In determining whether the Fourth Amendment's protections are implicated, the Court must look to the nature of the encounter between law enforcement and the individual citizen. See United States v. Waldon, 206 F.3d 597, 602 (6th Cir. 2000). The touchstone of an analysis under the Fourth Amendment is always “the reasonableness in all the circumstances of the particular governmental invasion of a citizen's personal security.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 (1968); see also Pa. v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 108-09 (1977). “Reasonableness, of course, depends ‘on a balance between the public interest and the individual's right to ...


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