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United States v. Juarez-Hernandez

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

July 14, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RANULFO ANTONIO JUAREZ-HERNANDEZ, Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matters before the court are the government's objections ("Government Objections") (docket no. 26) and Defendant Ranulfo Antonio Juarez-Hernandez's objections ("Defense Objections") (docket no. 27) to United States Chief Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 22), which recommends that the court deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress ("Motion") (docket no. 12).

II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 27, 2015, a grand jury returned a two-count Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with possession with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 and conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. On February 27, 2015, Defendant filed the Motion. On March 6, 2015, the Government filed a Resistance (docket no. 16). On March 10, 2015, Judge Scoles held a hearing ("Hearing") on the Motion. See March 10, 2015 Minute Entry (docket no. 17). Defendant appeared in court with his attorney, Cory Goldensoph. Special Assistant United States Attorney Erin Eldridge represented the government. On April 3, 2015, Judge Scoles issued his Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny the Motion. On April 16, 2015, the government filed the Government Objections. On April 17, 2015, Defendant filed the Defense Objections. On May 19, 2015, Defendant filed a "Motion to Reopen the Suppression Hearing Record and for Reconsideration of the Ruling" ("Motion to Reopen") (docket no. 33). On May 26, 2015, Judge Scoles held another hearing, at which he heard additional evidence. See May 26, 2015 Minute Entry (docket no. 36). On June 3, 2015, Judge Scoles issued a Supplement to the Report and Recommendation ("Supplement") (docket no. 44), which continues to recommend that the court deny the Motion. On June 17, 2015, Defendant filed Supplemental Objections (docket no. 45). The Report and Recommendation, Government Objections, Defense Objections and Supplemental Objections are fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a party files a timely objection to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, a "judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation."); United States v. Lothridge, 324 F.3d 599, 600 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting that a district judge must "undertake[] a de novo review of the disputed portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendations"). "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."). It is reversible error for a district court to fail to engage in a de novo review of a magistrate judge's report when such review is required. Lothridge, 324 F.3d at 600. Accordingly, the court reviews the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.

IV. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND [1]

In February 2014, officials from Homeland Security Investigations ("HSI") contacted officials at the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa regarding a package sent by Federal Express ("FedEx") from El Paso, Texas, to Urbana, Iowa. The package arrived at the FedEx facility in Urbana on February 14, 2014. Special Agent Tyler Mower of HSI obtained a search warrant for the package. The package contained a water heater full of 37 wrapped bricks of marijuana, weighing 85 pounds.

Agents removed all but roughly 20 pounds of the marijuana and filled the void with cardboard boxes. The agents then resealed the water heater and made it available for pickup at the FedEx facility. On the morning of February 18, 2014, Defendant and two other men retrieved the package from the FedEx facility. Agents followed Defendant and the other two men to a residence in northeast Cedar Rapids.

Upon arriving at the residence, Defendant and the other two men pulled into the driveway and parked in front of a detached garage. Agents then observed the men unload the package and carry it into the garage. The men only partially closed the garage door based on the testimony from the May 26, 2015 hearing, the garage door was open about four to five feet from the ground in other words, it was closed about two to three feet from the top of the garage. The agents were nonetheless able to observe three persons in the garage manipulating the hot water heater within the garage. The agents observed this by driving back and forth on the street. Special Agent David Poe of the DEA testified that agents observed the men open the package and begin to access the inside of the water heater. The agents walked up the driveway, identified themselves as law enforcement and entered the garage. The agents arrested Defendant and the other men and seized the remaining marijuana.

V. ANALYSIS

Defendant objects to Judge Scoles's legal conclusion that agents arrested Defendant in a public place. See Brief in Support of the Defense Objections (docket no. 27-1) at 3-4; Brief in Support of Supplemental Objections (docket no. 45-1) at 2-3. The government objects to Judge Scoles's legal conclusions that the inevitable discovery doctrine does not apply and that there were no exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless search and seizure. See ...


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