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United States v. Babb

March 19, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JOSEPH BABB, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph Babb Norman A. Mordue, Chief U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM - DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant, Joseph Babb, moves the Court for an order pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure suppressing any post-arrest statements or, in the alternative granting a hearing on the issue, and preserving defendant's rights to make additional motions and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. See Dkt. No.16, Notice of Mot. The government has filed its opposition to defendant's motion. See Dkt. No. 17.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Indictment

On October 18, 2006, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against defendant, which charges that on or about October 9, 2006, in St. Lawrence County, New York, defendant conspired with former co-defendant, Jamie L. Northrup,*fn1 and others known and unknown to the grand jury to possess with intent to distribute more than fifty grams of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base ("crack") and one-hundred grams of cocaine powder in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and 21 U.S.C. § 846. See Dkt. No. 4, Indictment.

B. Defendant's Arrest

On October 9, 2006, members of the Massena, New York, Police Department and the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency ("law enforcement officials") executed a search warrant of defendant's residence at 233 Center Street, Massena, New York.*fn2 See Dkt. No. 17, Mem. of Law at 2. Law enforcement officials seized $14,275.00 in United States currency and various drug paraphernalia including, plastic bags, rubber gloves and a digital scale. See Dkt. No. 16, Peebles Aff. at ¶ 3, Mem. of Law at 2. After searching defendant's residence, law enforcement officials observed a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer, belonging to Northrup, parked in the driveway and discovered a set of corresponding car keys on the kitchen table. One of the law enforcement officials activated the remote "unlock" button and the law enforcement officials proceeded to search the Blazer's interior, where they discovered a zipped nylon sack lying on the floor behind the front passenger's seat. A law enforcement official unzipped the sack, which revealed several baggies believed to hold crack. See Dkt. No. 17, Mem. of Law at 2; Dkt. No. 16, Mem. of Law at 2-3. The law enforcement officials then consulted with the St. Lawrence County District Attorney's Office and thereafter applied to amend the original search warrant so as to include the Blazer as an addendum to the original search warrant. Acting Village Justice James M. Crandall approved the addendum.*fn3

Dkt. No. 16, Mem. of Law at 3. The law enforcement officials then resumed the search of the Blazer and uncovered 291.7 grams of crack and 100.4 grams of cocaine powder. Id. Peebles Aff. at ¶ 4, Mem. of Law at 3.

The law enforcement officials placed defendant under arrest and transported him to the Massena Police Department for processing and there advised him of his Miranda rights, which Defendant orally waived. When confronted by law enforcement officials with the evidence of the crack, defendant made a series of self-incriminating statements. See Dkt. No. 16, Peebles Aff. at ¶ 4, Mem. of Law at 3; Dkt. No. 17, Mem. of Law at 3. Defendant disclaimed ownership of the crack/cocaine seized from the Blazer but also noted that he anticipated receiving compensation from Northrup if she sold crack/cocaine to any of his customers. Dkt. No. 16, Mem. of Law at 3; Dkt. No. 17, Mem. of Law at 3. These statements are the subject of defendant's motion to suppress, which the Court now turns to address.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant contends that law enforcement's search of the Blazer was in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that as fruit of the poisonous tree, the Court should suppress defendant's post-arrest statements. Dkt. No. 16, Peebles Aff. at ¶¶ 4-6. The government counters that defendant lacks standing to challenge the search and that any violation that may have occurred was not "pervasive or shocking" so as to make "fundamental fairness" an issue. In the alternative, the government argues that the Court should permit the statements under the inevitable discovery doctrine. Dkt. No. 17, Mem. of Law at 1-2.

The government asserts that defendant lacks standing to challenge the search of Northrup's Blazer. See id. at 3-4. "A defendant has no right to have evidence suppressed on Fourth Amendment grounds unless the breached privacy expectation was his own rather than that of a third party." United States v. Villegas, 899 F.2d 1324, 1333 (2d Cir. 1990) (citing Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978)). A "defendant may demonstrate the infringement of his own legitimate expectation of privacy by showing that he owned the premises or that he occupied them and had dominion and control over them by leave of the owner." Villegas, 899 F.2d at 1333 (citing Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 267 (1960), overruled on other grounds). Defendant has made no such demonstration and as he concedes, see Dkt. No. 16, Mem. of Law at 12, he lacks standing to challenge the law enforcement officials' search of Northrup's Blazer.

To overcome the hurdle posed by his lack of standing, defendant relies on the equitable principle that the government should not unfairly "profit from its lawless behavior." United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 357 (1974) (Brennan, J., dissenting). In support of his position, defendant further cites to the dissenting opinions written by Justices Brandeis and Holmes in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928). Justice Brandeis opined that "[i]f the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself . . . ." Id. at 485. Justice Homes echoed similar concerns when he added that "[i]f the existing code does not permit district attorneys to have a hand in such dirty business it does not permit the judge to allow such iniquities to succeed." Olmstead, 277 U.S. at 470. Invoking fundamental fairness, defendant argues that the Court should not permit the government to circumvent the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule and profit from its lawlessness. See Dkt. No. ...


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