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United States v. Lightsey

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

July 3, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JIMMY RAY LIGHTSEY

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1]

          MONTE C. RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress (“Motion”) (Doc. 24) and the Government's Response thereto (Doc. 26). The Motion was referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation on May 23, 2019, and an evidentiary hearing was held on June 25, 2019.[2] For the reasons stated herein, it is respectfully RECOMMENDED that the Motion be DENIED.

         I. Introduction

         In a two-count Indictment, Defendant is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(e), and possession, with intent to distribute, of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). (Doc. 1.)

         On May 22, 2019, Defendant filed the present Motion, seeking to suppress all evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his vehicle on June 24, 2018. (Doc. 24.) The Government justifies the search and seizure based on the automobile exception and the plain view exception to the warrant requirement. Defendant, however, argues that (1) the officers lacked probable cause to search his vehicle because the incriminating nature of the items observed in plain view was not immediately apparent given that Defendant was arrested for driving on a suspended license and not for possession of contraband; and (2) the officers should have obtained a search warrant before entering his vehicle because Defendant was already in custody, the officers had full control of his vehicle, and there was no threat of the vehicle leaving.

         II. Evidence Presented at the Evidentiary Hearing

         A. Exhibits

         The Court admitted the following exhibits into evidence:

• Government's Exhibit 1 (a photograph of 1866 West 45th Street and the adjacent vacant lot);
• Government's Exhibit 2A (a photograph (front view) of Defendant's vehicle (Toyota Venza), taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2B (a photograph (rear view) of Defendant's vehicle, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2C (a photograph of the front row seats and center console of Defendant's vehicle, showing a clear plastic bag of marijuana in plain view, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2D (a photograph of the driver's seat, floorboard, and turn signal of Defendant's vehicle, showing a firearm, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2E (a photograph of the driver's seat (with the door open) and floorboard of Defendant's vehicle, showing a firearm, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2F (a photograph of the firearm on the driver's floorboard in Defendant's vehicle, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2G (a photograph of a clear plastic bag of marijuana in plain view at the center console in Defendant's vehicle, taken on June 24, 2018);
• Government's Exhibit 2H (a photograph of another clear plastic bag of marijuana found inside the center console of Defendant's vehicle, taken on June 24, 2018); and
• Government's Exhibit 2I (a photograph of a pill bottle and a clear plastic bag containing cocaine found in another closed compartment to the left of the steering wheel in Defendant's vehicle, taken on June 24, 2018).

         B. ...


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