United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. POPLIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and the District Court's
Order of Referral [Doc. 1098], to address Defendant's
Second Motion to Suppress Confession [Doc. 1081], filed on
August 27, 2019. Defendant previously filed his first Motion
to Suppress Confession [Doc. 981] on April 22, 2019. The
Government filed a response in opposition [Doc. 1190] to both
Motions to Suppress on September 12, 2019.
evidentiary hearing was held on Defendant's Motions to
Suppress on September 23, 2019. [Doc. 1249]. Assistant United
States J. Gregory Bowman appeared on behalf of the
Government. Attorney Jerry J. Fabus, Jr., represented
Defendant Johnson, who was also present. After hearing the
arguments of counsel, the Court took the motions under
after reviewing the parties' briefs and arguments, the
evidence and exhibits presented at the hearing, and the
relevant legal authorities, the Court recommends that both of
Defendant's Motions to Suppress be denied.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Johnson is charged [Doc. 3] with conspiring to distribute
fifty (50) grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule II
controlled substance (Count 1), knowingly possessing a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense (Count
23), and money laundering (Count 30).
first seeks [Doc. 981] to suppress his January 2, 2017
confession to Agent John Wilson (“Agent Wilson”)
and Special Agent Scott Payne (“SA Payne”),
arguing that the Government will refuse to present Detective
Joshua Goins (“Detective Goins”) as a witness at
trial, and thus the Government would not be able to show
probable cause to perform the traffic stop of Defendant and
the search of the vehicle he was driving. Therefore,
Defendant asserts that his subsequent confession to
Investigator Wilson and Special Agent Payne should be
suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree.
also seeks [Doc. 1081] to suppress his January 2, 2017
confession, claiming that he was originally interrogated by
Detective Goins after he requested to speak to his attorney
multiple times and stated his wish to remain silent. However,
Defendant asserts that he eventually confessed to owning the
seized methamphetamine and firearm in the vehicle after being
interrogated by Detective Goins, and then agreed to speak
with Agent Wilson and SA Payne. At this point, Defendant
admits that he was read his Miranda rights, signed a
written waiver of his right to remain silent, and eventually
provided a very detailed confession to Agent Wilson and SA
Payne. However, Defendant claims that the warning of his
rights under Miranda occurred only after he was
already interrogated by Detective Goins, had requested to
speak with an attorney, and eventually confessed. Therefore,
Defendant seeks to have his confession on January 2, 2017
suppressed from the evidence at trial.
Government first responds [Doc. 1190] that it intends to call
Detective Goins as a witness at trial, and the Court notes
that the Government called Detective Goins as a witness at
the evidentiary hearing. Further, the Government maintains
that while Defendant was in custody, he was not interrogated
prior to the arrival of Agent Wilson and SA Payne, as
demonstrated by the written waiver of his rights. The
Government asserts that Detective Goins did not question or
interview Defendant prior to his interrogation by Agent
Wilson and SA Payne. Therefore, the Government states that
the only statement that it has to offer against Defendant at
trial is his confession given to Agent Wilson and SA Payne
after he waived his right to remain silent and to speak with
SUMMARY OF TESTIMONY
September 23 hearing, the Government presented the testimony
of Campbell County Sheriff's Office Detective Joshua
Goins, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent
Scott Payne. Defendant testified on his own behalf. The
Government also introduced as Exhibit 1 an Investigative
Report from the Eighth Judicial District prepared by
Detective Goins regarding his investigation of Defendant on
January 2, 2017; the Miranda Waiver signed by
Defendant as Exhibit 2; and a letter from Defendant to the
United States Attorney's Office as Exhibit 3. The Court
summarizes the witness's testimony and introduced
exhibits as follows.
Government first presented the testimony of Detective Goins,
who has been a detective with the Campbell County
Sheriff's Department for approximately two weeks, and
previously was the acting director of the Eighth Judicial
District Drug Task Force, including on January 2, 2017. [Tr.
5-6]. Detective Goins testified that he received information
from a confidential source that Defendant was in possession
of a safe containing narcotics and possibly a firearm at a
residence in LaFollette, Tennessee. [Tr. 6]. While Detective
Goins was unable to recall which confidential source
contacted him, he stated that it was someone he had likely
dealt with on other cases. [Tr. 6-7]. He further testified
that he was not familiar with Defendant at this point.
[Id.]. Detective Goins then contacted Agent John
Wilson with the Seventh Crime Task Force, who advised him
that there was a parole violation for Defendant's arrest,
and he pulled Defendant's criminal history, including a
photograph, from the Tennessee Criminal Justice Report. [Tr.
Goins testified that he conducted surveillance on the
“Long residence” where Defendant was reportedly
located. [Tr. 8]. Detective Goins was already familiar with
the location from his interactions with the Long family.
[Id.]. Additionally, Detective Goins stated that the
confidential source indicated that Defendant would be driving
a white Lexus, which was his attorney's car.
[Id.]. Detective Goins began surveilling the Long
residence, saw a white Lexus parked at the location, and
after a short period of time, saw an individual get into the
white Lexus. [Tr. 9]. At this point, Detective Goins
testified that the white Lexus “did not stop for a stop
sign at the bottom of the drive, ” and he followed the
vehicle to “17th and West Avenue, ” where it
again rolled through the stop sign. [Id.]. Detective
Goins continued to maintain surveillance until marked units
could conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle. [Id.].
traffic stop was then conducted on the vehicle. [Tr. 10].
Detective Goins testified that prior to the stop, he was
unable to tell who was driving the vehicle, but as he
approached the vehicle after the stop, he observed that
Defendant was the driver. [Id.]. Detective Goins
indicated to Defendant that he had been stopped for
performing a rolling stop at the stop sign, and he, along
with local law enforcement, ordered Defendant to go to the
rear of his vehicle. [Tr. 10-11]. Defendant then complied and
exited the vehicle. [Tr. 11]. Detective Goins testified that
after learning that Defendant had a parole violation, he
contacted his parole officer, and was instructed by the
parole officer to have Defendant searched when stopped due to
his parole contract. [Tr. 11-12].
Goins first sought to obtain Defendant's consent to
search the vehicle, despite the fact that there was a search
condition in Defendant's parole contract, and Defendant
refused to consent to the search. [Tr. 12]. Detective Goins
and local law enforcement then searched the vehicle, and
found a locked, black safe inside of the vehicle.
[Id.]. Detective Goins stated that he asked
Defendant if he could try the keys in the ignition to open
the safe, and Defendant responded “Yes, if you can find
it.” [Id.]. Detective Goins then opened the
safe by using a key on the vehicle key chain. [Tr. 13].
Detective Goins testified that law enforcement found a
firearm, a Social Security card in Defendant's name, a
substance believed to be methamphetamine, and other narcotics
inside of the safe. [Id.].
time, Defendant was at the rear of the vehicle, and had
already been placed under arrest due to the parole violation
warrant. [Id.]. Following a search of Defendant
pursuant to the arrest, law enforcement found approximately
$3, 000 in a pair of shorts under Defendant's pants. [Tr.
15]. When asked about Defendant's claim that he at one
point conducted an interrogation, Detective Goins stated:
At any point in time I - if I find something, I would
document it in my report, and I never at any one point
interviewed Mr. Johnson other than on the side of the roadway
while we were conducting our investigation. He requested to
talk to somebody - how he put it to me was above my pay
grade, or above my head, talking about the FBI. From there, I
contacted Agent Wilson from the CTF in Henderson County,
contacted the FBI to speak to him.
14]. Detective Goins stated that he prepared a report of his
contact with Defendant on January 2, 2017, and the report
does not indicate that he interrogated Defendant.
[Id.]. Next, Defendant was transported to the
Campbell County Sheriff's Office to be held due to his
arrest and parole violation. [Tr. 16]. Detective Goins
testified that he did not transport Defendant to the Campbell
County Sheriff's Office, as he was driving an unmarked
vehicle. [Tr. 18].
Goins stated that Agent Wilson and SA Payne came to speak
with Defendant, but that he did not take part in any
interrogation, debrief, or questioning of Defendant after he
was taken to the Campbell County Sheriff's Office. [Tr.
16]. The only statements by Defendant that Detective Goins
noted in his report was Defendant's comment, “If
you can find it, ” referring to the keys. [Tr. 17].
Further, Detective Goins stated that the stop took place in
the early evening, and estimated that it took approximately
an hour and fifteen minutes from the time when
Defendant's vehicle was stopped until he arrived at the