Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Campbell

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

January 30, 2018



          C.J. Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge.


         This matter is before the Court on Alston Ray Campbell, Jr.'s (“defendant”) Motion to Suppress Title III Wiretap Evidence. (Doc. 115). The Honorable Linda R. Reade, United States District Court Judge, referred the motion to me for a Report and Recommendation.

         While investigating a suspected drug trafficking organization, the Government obtained a series of related wiretaps, some of which authorized the Government to monitor defendant's communications. Defendant initially argued that the evidence obtained as a result of the wiretaps should be suppressed because the Government failed to prove that the wiretaps were necessary and because the Government failed to properly minimize the wiretaps. (Doc. 115-1). Importantly, defendant argued that the entire wiretap, not just individual communications, should be suppressed because of a pattern of improper minimization. The Court heard argument on January 17, 2018, at which time it became apparent that the parties were unprepared to address the minimization issue. Therefore, I reserved issuing a Report and Recommendation on the minimization issue and permitted the parties to submit supplemental briefing on the issue.

         Defendant timely filed his supplemental brief on January 24, 2018 (Doc. 137), and the Government timely filed its resistance on January 26, 2018. (Doc. 138). In his supplemental brief, defendant was instructed to identify any intercepted communications that he contends were improperly minimized that also contained incriminating information; however, defendant did not identify any such statements. Therefore, I will assume that none of the statements that were obtained as a result of allegedly improper minimization were of an incriminating nature. Given the nature of the issue currently before me and the binding precedent implicated, I find that a hearing on the minimization issue is unnecessary. To the extent a request for oral argument on the minimization issue exists, that request is denied.


         I previously engaged in a discussion of the factual background of this case and will not repeat that discussion here. (See Doc. 135, at 2-9). I will, however, supplement that discussion. Each of the wiretaps at issue included instructions on minimization, and Officer Bryan Furman testified as to the steps that were taken to minimize interceptions of irrelevant communications.

         Officer Furman testified that before the monitoring began, Officer Furman and the taint team received instruction from an Assistant United States Attorney on how to properly minimize communications in accordance with the wiretaps. These meetings were repeated each time a new wiretap was issued.

         Officer Furman testified that when a communication was first intercepted in this case, whether that communication was a text message or a telephone call, it was reviewed in real time by a taint team in a remote location. If the taint team conducting this initial review determined that the communication was not relevant, investigators would not have access to the communication. If a phone call was deemed irrelevant, the taint team would stop listening to the call, and the call would not be recorded. If the taint team believed the call could be relevant to the investigation, investigators were given the ability to listen to the call. In listening to such a phone call, the investigator listening to the call would first determine whether the subjects of the call were discussing information relevant to the investigation. If they were not, the investigator would stop listening to the call and instead would spot check the call to determine if the conversation shifted from innocent communications to the subject of the investigation. If the conversation had not shifted, the investigator would again stop listening and would continue spot checking. Officer Furman stated that as the investigation proceeded, investigators learned more about suspects' phone habits and became more adept at determining whether a call was relevant to the investigation. As a result, irrelevant calls were minimized at a higher percentage as the investigation proceeded than they were toward the beginning of the investigation.

         Text messages were treated slightly differently because when a text message is intercepted, all of the information contained in the text message is received by the taint team at the same time. As a result, the taint team could not minimize their review of the message to the same extent they could minimize an irrelevant phone call by simply not listening. If a text message was deemed irrelevant, however, it was not passed along to investigators and investigators did not have access to it. As with phone calls, the taint team and investigators became more knowledgeable about the suspected drug trafficking organization's coded language over time and were, therefore, able to refine their interceptions. Line sheets were kept as records of all of the communications investigators had access to, regardless of whether those communications were ultimately deemed relevant.

         On January 17, 2018, I held an evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion. That morning, defendant produced to the Government and me a binder with hundreds of telephone calls and texts he alleged were improperly minimized. None of these phone calls contained incriminating statements.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The federal wiretap statute requires that interceptions must “be conducted in such a way as to minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception.” 28 U.S.C. § 2518. Defendant contends that the remedy should be complete suppression of the evidence obtained, not just suppression of those communications that were improperly minimized. Defendant would have me recommend that the Court hold that the Eighth Circuit is an outlier with respect to the remedy provided when a wiretap is improperly minimized. I am, however, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.