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United States v. Carter

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

June 20, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIE JUNIOR CARTER, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the court is Defendant Willie Junior Carter's Objections (docket no. 324) to United States Chief Magistrate Judge C.J. Williams's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 320), which recommends that the court deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence (“Motion”) (docket no. 292).

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On February 22, 2018, a grand jury returned a Superseding Indictment (docket no. 170) charging Defendant with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A) and 846, and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). See Superseding Indictment at 2, 6-7. On May 8, 2018, Defendant filed the Motion. On May 15, 2018, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 308). On May 21, 2018, Judge Williams held a hearing (“Hearing”) on the Motion. See May 21, 2018 Minute Entry (docket no. 313). Defendant appeared in court with attorney Anne M. Laverty. Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Nydle represented the government. On May 30, 2018, Judge Williams issued the Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny the Motion. On June 13, 2018, Defendant filed the Objections. The matter is 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]

         On January 12, 2017, Waterloo Police Department Officer Albert Bovy was on routine patrol in a marked police vehicle. Officer Bovy was contacted by Waterloo Police Department Investigator Michael Girsch, who was conducting a narcotics investigation. Investigator Girsch advised Officer Bovy that Defendant was driving without a valid driver's license, and that Officer Bovy should conduct a traffic stop if possible. Investigator Girsch provided Officer Bovy with the color, make, model and license plate number of Defendant's vehicle. Officer Bovy independently checked Defendant's driver's license information, viewed his photograph and confirmed that his license was suspended.

         Shortly after speaking with Investigator Girsch, Officer Bovy observed Defendant driving southbound on Ashland Avenue. Officer Bovy visually confirmed that Defendant was operating the vehicle, having just viewed Defendant's photograph. Officer Bovy was driving westbound on Newton Street as both he and Defendant approached the intersection of Ashland Avenue and Newton Street. That intersection is not controlled by a traffic light or a stop sign. Officer Bovy observed that Defendant was driving too fast for the snowy and icy road conditions. After Defendant passed through the intersection, Officer Bovy turned south on Ashland Avenue to pursue Defendant and activated his top lights. Defendant continued southbound towards Kern Street and drove into the intersection of Kern and Ashland, in disregard of a stop sign. Defendant turned right onto Kern Street and drove partially up the next block before stopping.

         After Defendant pulled over, Officer Bovy approached Defendant's vehicle on foot. Defendant verbally confirmed both his identity and that he did not have a valid driver's license. During the traffic stop, Defendant appeared nervous and was sweating profusely despite the cold temperature. Officer Bovy asked Defendant to exit the vehicle, which he did. At that point, Officer Bovy attempted to handcuff Defendant, whereupon Defendant attempted to flee on foot. Defendant slipped in the snow, and Officer Bovy was able to handcuff him. During a search incident to arrest, Officer Bovy discovered approximately twelve grams of cocaine base in Defendant's pocket. Defendant subsequently made incriminating statements during a post-arrest interview.

         V. ANALYSIS

         In the Motion, Defendant argues that Officer Bovy “lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate a legal traffic stop on January 12, 2017, ” and that all evidence recovered after the stop must be suppressed. Motion at 3. Judge Williams found that “Officer Bovy had reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop for three independent violations: (1) driving without a license; (2) failure to maintain a safe speed, and; (3) failure to appropriately stop at a stop sign.” Report and Recommendation at 7. Judge Williams further found that, even if the initial detention were invalid, “[D]efendant's attempted flight after the traffic stop establishe[d] an additional and independent basis for the arrest and subsequent search of his person, the police interview, and [D]efendant's incriminating statement.” Id. at 9. Defendant does not object to Judge Williams's finding that Officer Bovy's traffic stop was lawful based on his reasonable suspicion that Defendant was driving without a license. See generally Objections. Additionally, upon review of the record, the court finds that Officer Bovy had reasonable suspicion, and, in fact, probable cause, to believe that Defendant was driving without a valid license. Officer Bovy thus had reasonable suspicion and probable cause to initiate the traffic stop, and there is no basis to suppress the evidence that was recovered thereafter. Accordingly, Defendant's objections to Judge Williams's alternative findings are moot. Nevertheless, the court will review the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.

         A. Arrival at ...


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