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United States v. Glass

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

January 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DANIEL JONES, Defendant.

          Jose E. Martinez, United States District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ALICIA M. OTAZO-REYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant Daniel Jones' ("Defendant" or "Jones") Motion to Suppress [D.E. 272]. This matter was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Jose E. Martinez, United States District Judge, pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 636 [D.E. 277]. The undersigned held an evidentiary hearing on this matter on January 4, 2018 [D.E. 301]. For the reasons stated below, the undersigned respectfully recommends that Defendant's Motion to Suppress be DENIED.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On November 17, 2017, Jones was charged in a Superseding Indictment (hereafter, "Indictment") with the following offenses:

Count 1: Racketeering Conspiracy, from January 2000 to May 9, 2017, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d).
Count 2: Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, from January 2000 to May 9, 2017, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.
Count 3: Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, from September 2012 to May 9, 2017, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

See Indictment [D.E. 193]. The Indictment, which consists of 23 counts and charges a total of fourteen defendants, alleges the existence of a criminal enterprise in Northern Miami-Dade County, Florida that sought to generate income through narcotics distribution and robberies and engaged in acts of violence. Id. at 3. The enterprise was allegedly formed under the leadership of Isaac Thompson ("Thompson"), with the leadership role taken over by Antonio Glass ("Glass") upon Thompson's incarceration in 2012. Id. Glass is the lead defendant in the Indictment. Id. at 1.

         On May 11, 2016, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle driven by Jones in which Glass was a passenger. See Motion to Suppress [D.E. 272 at 1], At the time, law enforcement seized a cellular phone from Jones, which item was subsequently searched pursuant to a federal search warrant obtained on June 15, 2016. Id. at 1-2. Jones seeks to suppress the cellular phone and all evidence associated with it on the grounds that he was illegally detained and that the phone was seized without probable cause.[1]

         APPLICABLE LAW

         1. The Fourth Amendment's protection against illegal arrests

         The Fourth Amendment protects "the people" from "unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const, amend. IV. A seizure occurs in the context of the Fourth Amendment "whenever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away." Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 696 n.5 (1981) (citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16 (1968)). See also Brower v. Ctv. of Invo. 489 U.S. 593, 596-97 (1989) (A Fourth Amendment "seizure" occurs "when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied"). An individual is in custody if, "under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable man in the [individual's] position would feel a restraint on his freedom of movement fairly characterized as that 'degree associated with a formal arrest' to such extent that he would not feel free to leave." United States v. Phillips. 812 F.2d 1355, 1360 (11th Cir. 1987). See a]so United States v. Long, 866 F.2d 402, 405 (11th Cir. 1989) ("A suspect is considered in custody if a reasonable person would believe that he were not free to leave; for example, if the officers brandished weapons, touched the suspect, or used language or a tone that indicated that compliance with the officers could be compelled."). The reasonableness standard embodied in the Fourth Amendment is articulated in "the general rule that every arrest, and every seizure having the essential attributes of a formal arrest, is unreasonable unless it is supported by probable cause." Summers, 452 U.S. at 700.

         Whether a warrantless arrest is constitutionally valid depends "upon whether, at the moment the arrest was made, the officers had probable cause to make it-whether at that moment the facts and circumstances within their knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information were sufficient to warrant a prudent man in believing that the petitioner had committed or was committing an offense." Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91 (1964). See also United States v. Burgos, 720 F.2d 1520, 1524 n.4 (11th Cir. 1983) ("Probable cause to arrest exists where the facts and circumstances within the officers' knowledge, of which they had reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to cause a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been or is being committed.").

         2. The Fourth Amendment's protection against illegal searches

         "The Fourth Amendment proscribes all unreasonable searches and seizures, and it is a cardinal principle that searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment-subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions." Mincev v Arizona. 437 U.S. 385, 390 (1978) (citations omitted). "Among the exceptions to the warrant requirement is a search incident to a lawful arrest." Arizona v. Gant. 556 U.S. 332, 338 (2009). Additionally, under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement a vehicle search does not violate the Fourth Amendment if, "under the totality of the circumstances, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in the vehicle." United States v. Tamari, 454 F.3d 1259, 1261-62 (11th Cir. 2006) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         3. Fruit of the poisonous tree

         Under the long established exclusionary rule, "evidence seized during an unlawful search [can] not constitute proof against the victim of the search." Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 484 (1963) (citing Weeks v. United States. 232 U.S. 383 (1914)). "The exclusionary prohibition extends as well to the indirect as the direct products of such invasions." Id. at 484-85 (citing Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States. 251 U.S. 385 (1920)). Moreover, the exclusionary rule applies equally to physical and verbal evidence. Id. at 485. As further explained by the Supreme Court, not "all evidence is fruit of the poisonous tree simply because it would not have come to light but for the illegal actions of the police. Rather, the more apt question in such a case is whether, granting establishment of the primary illegality, the evidence to which instant objection is made has been come at by exploitation of that illegality or instead by means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint." Id. at 487-88 (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         I. Testimonial and ...


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