United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. SKRETNY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Demario Chatmon was stopped in his car at noon on May 15,
2017, in Jamestown, NY. While he was being held, Jamestown
Police (“JPD”) applied for and received a search
warrant for his apartment, based on testimony from a
confidential informant. After a search of Defendant's
apartment found drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a gun,
Defendant, still in police custody, was arrested. A search of
his person at the police station after his arrest found drugs
and money. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence found
pursuant to the search of his apartment and the search of his
person. (Docket Nos. 17, 28, 36.) This Court referred the
matter to Magistrate Judge McCarthy. (Docket No. 7.) Before
this court now are Defendant's (Docket No. 128) and the
government's (Docket No. 127) objections to two Reports
and Recommendations (Docket Nos. 95, 110) regarding multiple
suppression issues. For the following reasons, Judge
McCarthy's Recommendations are adopted in part, and
remanded in part for further proceedings.
August 29, 2018, the Honorable Jeremiah J. McCarthy, United
States Magistrate Judge, filed an interim decision and order
in which he found that (1) the vehicle stop pursuant to which
police held Defendant was not justified by reasonable
suspicion, and (2) that there was no probable cause for the
warrant to search his apartment. (Docket No. 45.) Because he
found no probable cause for the warrant, Judge McCarthy
scheduled a hearing on whether evidence derived from the
apartment search should be suppressed, pursuant to United
States v. Leon. This hearing was held on September 24,
2018. (Docket No. 56.) At the close of the hearing, Defendant
requested that the hearing be held open to allow him time to
further question the government's witness, Detective
Kent, the officer who had applied for the warrant, and to
present his own evidence. (Id.) Judge McCarthy
initially indicated that the hearing might be held open, to
allow Defendant to present his arguments. But after a series
of delays and possible misunderstandings among the parties,
the parties were instructed to proceed by briefing, with
Defendant “permitted” to make additional
arguments about why additional evidence was necessary.
(Docket Nos. 71, 78, 82.)
many extensions of time, requested by Defendant's
attorney, the parties held oral argument on the good faith
issue on June 12, 2019. (Docket No. 90.) Defendant again
asked that the good faith hearing not be closed, in the event
that Judge McCarthy finds that the government had established
good faith. (FTR Recording of Status Conference, 6/12/2019,
Docket No. 90). The government objected and stated that it
considered the hearing officially closed. A text order on
June 13, 2019, instructed Defendant to immediately raise all
issues not related to suppression. (Docket No. 91.) On July
9, 2019, Defendant moved to request subpoenas to compel
witness testimony and the production of documents related to
the issuance of the warrant. (Docket No. 94).
10, 2019, Judge McCarthy issued a Report and Recommendation
finding that: (1) the traffic stop was not justified by
reasonable suspicion; (2) the search of Defendant's
apartment was supported by good faith exception, so that
evidence seized pursuant to the warrant was admissible, and
(3) denying Defendant's motion for subpoenas. (Docket No.
95.) The government moved for clarification, because Judge
McCarthy did not directly state whether the evidence seized
from Defendant's person was also admissible. (Docket No.
96.) Defendant moved for reconsideration, arguing that he had
never had a chance to fully present his arguments at the good
faith hearing. (Docket No. 104.) Judge McCarthy then issued a
second Report and Recommendation, in which he (1) recommended
that the evidence found on Defendant at the JPD station be
suppressed and (2) reiterated his denial of Defendant's
request for subpoenas, stating that Defendant had a chance to
raise arguments for additional witnesses and had not made
those arguments. (Docket No. 110.)
the government and Defendant, represented by new counsel,
filed objections to Judge McCarthy's Reports and
Recommendations. (Docket Nos. 127, 128.) Defendant responded
to the government's objections on November 19, 2019.
(Docket No. 131.) The government responded to Defendant's
objections on November 30, 2019. (Docket No. 132.) This Court
has carefully reviewed the Reports and Recommendations and
the parties' submissions. For the following reasons, this
Court adopts the Recommendations in part and remands in part
for further consideration.
Evidence from the station search must be suppressed because
the traffic stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion,
nor was the seizure of Defendant supported by probable cause.
first the issue of the evidence found on Defendant's
person at the JPD station, this Court accepts Judge
McCarthy's recommendation that it be suppressed. The
government argues that probable cause to arrest Defendant
arose after the informant gave the tip to Detective Kent, or
after the informant's sworn in camera testimony, or after
the search of Defendant's apartment. (Docket No. 127 at
27.) The government argues that the search was therefore a
permissible search incident to a lawful arrest. In the
alternative, the government argues that the search was a
lawful “inventory” search, or that the evidence
from the search is admissible as an “inevitable
discovery” resulting from the traffic stop.
(Id. at 27-28.)
temporary detention of an individual during a traffic stop is
subject to limitation under the Fourth Amendment as a
‘seizure' of the person.... The Fourth Amendment
requires that an officer making such a stop have probable
cause or reasonable suspicion that the person stopped has
committed a traffic violation or is otherwise engaged in or
about to be engaged in criminal activity.” United
States v. Olavarria, No. 09 CR. 870 PGG, 2011 WL
1529190, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 20, 2011) (citing Holeman
v. City of New London, 425 F.3d 184, 189 (2d Cir.2005)).
“A stop based on reasonable suspicion must not detain a
person longer than necessary to achieve the purpose of the
stop.” Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S.
348, 354, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1614, 191 L.Ed.2d 492 (2015).
Authority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied to the
traffic infraction are-or reasonably should have
suspicion for a traffic stop may be based upon information
from a confidential informant so long as the tip bears
sufficient indicia of reliability. United States v.
Elmore, 482 F.3d 172, 179 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing
Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 147, 92 S.Ct. 1921,
1924, 32 L.Ed.2d 612 (1972)).
a brief traffic stop, where only reasonable suspicion is
required, an arrest in public requires probable cause.
United States v. Valentine, 539 F.3d 88, 93 (2d Cir.
2008); see also Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366,
370, 124 S.Ct. 795, 799, 157 L.Ed.2d 769 (2003) (“A
warrantless arrest of an individual in a public place for a
felony, or a misdemeanor committed in the officer's
presence, is consistent with the Fourth Amendment if the
arrest is supported by probable cause.”)
arrest occurs when, “in view of all of the
circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person
would have believed that he was not free to leave.”
United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100
S.Ct. 1870, 1877, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980)
cause for an arrest can arise from an informant's tip,
but only if the tip possesses sufficient indicia of
reliability, considering the totality of the circumstances.
Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 242, 103 S.Ct.
2317, 2334, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). Reliability can be found
through independent corroboration, police familiarity with
the informant, the informant's track record, and his
incentive in providing the tip. Id.
It is a
violation of the Fourth Amendment for police to transport a
person from a place where he is entitled to be, without a
warrant or probable cause, to a police station, where he is
detained for investigative purposes. Hayes v. Fla.,
470 U.S. 811, 816, 105 S.Ct. 1643, 1647, 84 L.Ed.2d 705
(1985). (holding that fingerprint evidence resulting from
involuntary transport of suspect to police station should be
suppressed). See also Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S.
721, 89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676 (1969).
warrantless search may be conducted incident to a lawful
arrest but such a search may only include the arrestee's
person and the area within his immediate control. Arizona
v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 339, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 1716, 173
L.Ed.2d 485 (2009) (internal citations omitted). This
limitation ensures that the scope of the search matches its
purpose: protecting arresting officers and safeguarding any
evidence of the offense of arrest that an arrestee might
conceal or destroy. Id.
search as part of nondiscretionary booking procedures after a
lawful arrest-a so-called “inventory search”-is
another exception to the warrant requirement. See South
Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 96 S.Ct. 3092, 49
L.Ed.2d 1000 (1976). An inventory search does not require a
warrant or probable cause because it is not done to detect
crime or to serve criminal prosecutions, but rather
“(1) to protect the owner's property while it is in
police custody; (2) to protect the police against spurious
claims of lost or stolen property; and (3) to protect the
police from potential danger.” United States v.
Lopez, 547 F.3d 364, 369-70 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing
Opperman, 428 U.S. at 369).
when evidence is seized unlawfully, it can still be admitted
if the government can show that the evidence would inevitably
have been discovered lawfully. Nix v. Williams, 467
U.S. 431, 444 (1984); see also U.S. v. Heath, 455
F.3d 52, 55 (2d Cir. 2006). The proof of the inevitable
discovery “involves no speculative elements, ”
and must focus on demonstrated historical facts. U.S. v.
Eng, 971 F.2d 854, 859 (2d Cir. 1992).
the confidential informant spoke with Detective Kent sometime
on the morning of May 15, 2017, and told him he had seen
Defendant in possession of cocaine. Defendant was stopped in
his car and detained between 12 and 1 PM on May 15, 2017. A
search warrant of his apartment issued at 1:18 PM and the
search of his apartment was completed at 3:10 PM. (Docket No.
17-1 at 29.) After the search revealed a firearm, ammunition,