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United States v. Nixon

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

June 18, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON NIXON, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S R & R AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          THOMAS L. PARKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Ripley, Tennessee Police Department executed a search warrant at Defendant's house which led to a federal indictment. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence found there. The Magistrate Court issued a Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) suggesting the motion be denied. Defendant filed timely objections so the Motion is now here.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Defendant was named in a single-count indictment accusing him of being a felon in possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 1, PageID 1.) Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence and Memorandum in Support was referred to the Magistrate Court for a hearing and an R & R. (ECF No. 18, PageID 16-23; and ECF No. 21, PageID 28.) After the prosecution responded, the Magistrate Court conducted a hearing and issued its R & R with proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law addressing Defendant's arguments: (1) that the search warrant lacked probable cause; (2) that the search warrant was “stale” and that the delay in executing the warrant was unreasonable; and (3) that Defendant made statements without the benefit of Miranda warnings. (ECF Nos. 26, 31, 35, PageID 128-38.) The Magistrate Court rejected each of Defendant's arguments and recommended denial of the Motion. (ECF No. 35, PageID 128-38.)

         Defendant timely filed his Objections to the R & R reiterating each argument he made before the Magistrate Court and the United States responded. (ECF No. 36, PageID 139-43; ECF No. 39, PageID 146-49.) After a de novo review of the R & R and after reviewing all related submissions of the parties including the Objections and the Government's Response, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge and ADOPTS the R & R in its entirety. The Defendant's Motion is therefore DENIED for the following reasons.

         PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT

         The R & R issued by the Magistrate Court recounts proposed findings of fact which are thorough and accurate. (ECF No. 35 at PageID 129-31.) The Court has reviewed the transcript of the Hearing in this cause and agrees with the findings of fact proposed by the Magistrate Court. (ECF No. 31 at PageID 39-127.) Moreover, the Objections filed by Defendant question the legal conclusions drawn by the Magistrate Court and raise no factual dispute. The Court ADOPTS thus the Magistrate Court's proposed findings of fact issued in the R & R.

         CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         The R & R issued by the Magistrate Court includes proposed conclusions of law addressing each of Defendant's arguments. (ECF No. 35 at PageID 131-38.)

         Probable Cause.

         The first issue raised by Defendant is whether the search warrant lacked probable cause. Although Defendant questions aspects of the Magistrate Judge's recommended conclusions he reiterates in essence the same arguments that he asserted in the initial Motion. Defendant argues that the application for the search warrant did not provide an adequate basis for the issuing court to conclude that the confidential informant (CI) who provided information to the affiant officer was reliable. Defendant argues that “the Magistrate Court's scrutiny (of the application for the warrant) lacked substance.” (ECF No. 36 at PageID 139-40.) The Court disagrees with Defendant's dismissive characterization of the Magistrate Court's analysis. Contrary to Defendant's position, the Magistrate Court correctly focused on the fact that the CI not only provided information but also made a controlled purchase of marijuana from the Defendant at the very location to be searched. (ECF No. 35 at PageID 133-34.)[1]

         The standard for issuing a search warrant is that there is a “fair probability that evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983); United States v. Franklin, 622 Fed.Appx. 501, 508-09 (6th Cir. 2015). Moreover, the Court should give “great deference” to the determination of the judge who issued the search warrant in the first place. United States v. Brooks, 594 F.3d 488, 4936th Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Allen, 213 F.3d 970, 973 (6th Cir. 2000) (en banc)). Because the affiant for the search warrant conducted a controlled purchase of narcotics from Defendant with a CI at the house where the search was to occur, the affiant sufficiently corroborated the information received from the CI and enhanced the CI's reliability. As concluded by the Magistrate Judge, the search warrant application provided the issuing judge with the assurance that there was a “fair probability” that officer would find evidence in that location.

         The Court ADOPTS the proposed conclusions of law issued by the Magistrate Court in the R & R as it relates to Defendant's objection that the search warrant lacked probable cause and ...


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