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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
EMMANUEL JACKSON AND TARRESSE LEONARD, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          EDWIN G. TORRES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Tarresse Leonard's (“Leonard”) motion to suppress [D.E. 59] physical evidence, including a firearm, ammunition, and eight grams of cocaine protected under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. An evidentiary hearing was held on April 23, 2019 and Leonard's motion is now ripe for disposition.[1] Having carefully considered Leonard's motion, the Government's response in opposition, the testimony of the witnesses, the oral arguments of counsel, and being fully advised in the premises, the Court recommends that Leonard's motion be DENIED for the reasons set forth below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 18, 2018, Detective Stanley Paul-Noel (“Detective Paul-Noel”) of the Miami Police Department was conducting surveillance in an unmarked vehicle for an unrelated narcotics investigation near the corner of Southwest 37th Avenue and Florida Avenue. While doing so, he observed Emanuel Jackson (“Jackson”) walking with a firearm in his hand towards a small crowd of individuals who had gathered near the southeast corner of 37th Avenue and Florida Avenue. As Jackson approached the crowd, Detective Paul-Noel claims that Jackson raised the firearm and pointed it in the direction of individuals standing on the corner. As the crowd began to disperse, Jackson placed the firearm in his waistband, took off his shirt, and walked towards 3675 Florida Avenue, Miami, Florida (the “Residence”). Tarresse Leonard (“Leonard”) and another individual accompanied him.

         As a precautionary measure, Detective Paul-Noel did not immediately intervene. Instead, Detective Paul-Noel called for reinforcements and Detective Adrian Valle (“Detective Valle”) arrived on the scene within sixty seconds. The two detectives then followed Jackson to place him under arrest. The detectives verbally identified themselves and shouted commands for the three men to stop. When Jackson noticed the detectives, he ran towards the Residence and Mr. Leonard tossed a large freezer bag of marijuana on the ground. Afterwards, the three men ran into the Residence.

         The detectives chased the three men into the Residence. They apprehended Jackson in the living room and immediately placed him under arrest. A few moments later, Officer Yader Somarriba (“Officer Somarriba”) arrived on the scene and conducted a pat-down search of Jackson's person. Officer Somarriba recovered a black 9mm handgun from Jackson's waistband. Officer Somarriba also found a plastic bag of heroin and a yellow-tinted baggie containing pieces of Xanax bars in Jackson's front right pocket. While taking Jackson into custody, Detective Paul-Noel noticed a clear plastic bag containing crack cocaine in the living room in plain view. Meanwhile, Mr. Leonard ran to the east bedroom of the Residence.[2]The officers directed Mr. Leonard to come out of the bedroom and, when he complied, law enforcement placed him under arrest. Leonard alleges that Jackson admitted to law enforcement that he owned the drugs on the sofa in the living room of the Residence.

         After taking the three men into custody, Detective Paul-Noel interviewed Jackson and Leonard. During the interview, Jackson admitted that he was in possession of drugs and a firearm. Law enforcement then applied for and obtained a state search warrant. In the execution of the warrant, law enforcement recovered a loaded pistol, baggies of cocaine, and crack cocaine in the child's bedroom. Officers located the gun and ammunition under a mattress and the cocaine/cocaine base behind a dresser.

         On September 13, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted the three men and charged each of them as a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g) and possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). Jackson and Leonard were also charged with brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A)(i).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Leonard's motion seeks to suppress a firearm, ammunition, cocaine, and a cocaine base found pursuant to a search warrant that law enforcement obtained on May 18, 2018 at the Residence. Leonard argues that the Court should suppress the evidence seized during the search of the Residence because the officers (1) entered the Residence and conducted a warrantless search of the premises without probable cause or exigent circumstances, and (2) omitted key facts from an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for another search of the premises. We discuss Leonard's arguments in turn.

         A. Whether Leonard has Standing

         Leonard claims that the detectives unlawfully entered the Residence without a warrant and that any evidence recovered must be suppressed as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Before we consider the merits of Leonard's motion to suppress, we must determine in the first instance whether Leonard has standing to assert a Fourth Amendment violation.

         The Fourth Amendment guarantees that people shall “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. The Amendment applies “without regard to whether the government actor is investigating crime or performing another function, ” including acting as an employer. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon, 560 U.S. 746, 756 (2010). “The Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures protects an individual in those places where [he] can demonstrate a reasonable expectation of privacy against government intrusion.” United States v. King, 509 F.3d 1338, 1341 (11th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks omitted). In other words, the “capacity to claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment depends upon whether the person who claims the protection of the Amendment has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place.” Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 88 (1998) (citation, internal quotation marks, and ellipses omitted). Accordingly, a defendant has standing to challenge a search and seizure only if he “had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the property when it was searched.” United States v. Gibson, 708 F.3d 1256, 1276 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Warrantless searches and seizures inside a person's home are presumptively unreasonable. See United States v. Franklin, 694 F.3d 1, 7 (11th Cir. 2012). The curtilage of a home, “the private property immediately adjacent to a home, is entitled to the same protection against unreasonable search and seizure as the home itself.” United States v. Noriega, 676 F.3d 1252, 1262 (11th Cir. 2012) (citation, internal quotation marks, and alterations omitted). The Supreme Court has defined the curtilage as the area around the home that harbors those intimate activities associated with domestic life and the privacies of the home. See United States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294, 300 (1987). This means that “[w]henever government agents enter into the curtilage they necessarily intrude upon the individual's reasonable expectation of privacy.” United States v. Jackson, 588 F.2d 1046, 1053 (5th Cir. 1979).

         “In order to have standing to seek suppression of evidence, a defendant must establish both a subjective expectation of privacy in the place searched as well as the objective reasonableness of that expectation.” United States v. Maxi, 886 F.3d 1318, 1325 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing United States v. Robinson, 62 F.3d 1325, 1328 (11th Cir. 1995)). “[W]here the premises searched is the dwelling or is owned or rented by, or is in the possession of the accused, he has standing to attack the search.” United States v. Bachner, 706 F.2d 1121, 1126 n.6 (11th Cir. 1983) (quoting State v. Leveson, 151 So.2d 283, 285 (Fla. 1963)). However, in some circumstances, “a person may have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the house of someone else.” Carter, 525 U.S. at 89. For example, “an overnight guest in a home may claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment, but one who is merely present with the consent of the householder may not.” Id. at 90 (explaining that the Fourth Amendment extends to overnight guests because “hold[ing] that an overnight guest has a legitimate expectation of privacy in his host's home merely recognizes the every day expectations of privacy we all share. Staying overnight in another's home is a longstanding social custom that serves functions recognized as valuable by society”).

         “A defendant also may establish standing by demonstrating an unrestricted right of occupancy or custody and control of the premises searched; ownership is not required, but mere presence or even possession of a key is insufficient.” United States v. Merricks,572 Fed.Appx. 753, 757 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v. Sarda-Villa, 760 F.2d 1232, 1236 (11th Cir. 1985)). Ultimately, a defendant bears the burden of proving a legitimate expectation of privacy in an area searched; if an individual fails to do so, the defendant cannot challenge the search. See Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 130 n.1 (1978); see also Presley v. ...


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