United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division
Williams United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) (Doc. 43) of the Honorable Mark A.
Roberts, United States Magistrate Judge. On August 5, 2019,
defendant filed a Motion to Suppress. (Doc. 28). On August
12, 2019, the government timely filed a resistance. (Doc.
31). On September 12, 2019, Judge Roberts held a hearing on
the motion. (Doc. 35). On September 26, 2019, both parties
timely filed supplemental briefs pursuant to Judge
Roberts' order. (Docs. 41 & 42).
October 25, 2019, Judge Roberts issued his R&R,
recommending that the Court grant in part and deny in part
defendant's Motion to Suppress. (Docs. 28 & 43).
Specifically, Judge Roberts found that although defendant was
in custody, her statements made on the porch of the residence
were voluntary and not the result of police interrogation.
(Doc. 43, at 12-18). Defendant's statements were
therefore not obtained in violation of her Miranda
rights and are admissible at trial. (Id., at 18).
Judge Roberts found, however, that the search of
defendant's Brinks box was unreasonable and any evidence
resulting from the search should be suppressed.
(Id., at 27). The deadline for filing objections to
the R&R was November 8, 2019. (Id., at 28). On
November 8, 2019, both parties filed objections to the
R&R (Docs. 46, 47, & 48).
following reasons, the Court adopts in part
and rejects in part Judge Roberts'
R&R (Doc. 43) and denies defendant's
Motion to Suppress (Doc. 28).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court reviews the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation pursuant to the statutory standards found in
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1):
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. A judge of the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The
judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (2006); see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 72(b) (stating identical requirements). While examining
these statutory standards, the United States Supreme Court
Any party that desires plenary consideration by the Article
III judge of any issue need only ask. Moreover, while the
statute does not require the judge to review an issue de novo
if no objections are filed, it does not preclude further
review by the district judge, sua sponte or at the request of
a party, under a de novo or any other standard.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985). Thus, a
district court may review de novo any issue in a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation at any time.
Id. If a party files an objection to the magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, however, the district
court must “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). In the absence of an objection, the
district court is not required “to give any more
consideration to the magistrate's report than the court
considers appropriate.” Thomas, 474 U.S. at
review, of course, is nondeferential and generally allows a
reviewing court to make an “independent review”
of the entire matter. Salve Regina Coll. v. Russell,
499 U.S. 225, 238 (1991) (noting also that “[w]hen de
novo review is compelled, no form of appellate deference is
acceptable”); see Doe v. Chao, 540 U.S. 614,
620-19 (2004) (noting de novo review is “distinct from
any form of deferential review”). The de novo review of
a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, however,
only means a district court “‘give[s] fresh
consideration to those issues to which specific objection has
been made.'” United States v. Raddatz, 447
U.S. 667, 675 (1980) (quoting H.R.Rep. No. 94-1609, at 3,
reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 6162, 6163 (discussing how
certain amendments affect 28 U.S.C. § 636(b))). Thus,
although de novo review generally entails review of an entire
matter, in the context of § 636 a district court's
required de novo review is limited to “de novo
determination[s]” of only “those portions”
or “specified proposed findings” to which
objections have been made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
see Thomas, 474 U.S. at 154 (“Any party that
desires plenary consideration by the Article III judge of any
issue need only ask.” (emphasis added)). Consequently,
the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has indicated de novo
review would only be required if objections were
“specific enough to trigger de novo review.”
Branch v. Martin, 886 F.2d 1043, 1046 (8th Cir.
1989). Despite this “specificity” requirement to
trigger de novo review, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
has “emphasized the necessity . . . of retention by the
district court of substantial control over the ultimate
disposition of matters referred to a magistrate.”
Belk v. Purkett, 15 F.3d 803, 815 (8th Cir. 1994).
As a result, the Eighth Circuit has concluded that general
objections require “full de novo review” if the
record is concise. Id. (“Therefore, even had
petitioner's objections lacked specificity, a de novo
review would still have been appropriate given such a concise
record.”). Even if the reviewing court must construe
objections liberally to require de novo review, it is clear
to this Court that there is a distinction between making an
objection and making no objection at all. See Coop. Fin.
Ass'n, Inc. v. Garst, 917 F.Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D.
Iowa 1996) (“The court finds that the distinction
between a flawed effort to bring objections to the district
court's attention and no effort to make such objections
absence of any objection, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
has indicated a district court should review a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation under a clearly
erroneous standard of review. See Grinder v. Gammon,
73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (noting when no objections
are filed and the time for filing objections has expired,
“[the district court judge] would only have to review
the findings of the magistrate judge for clear error”);
Taylor v. Farrier, 910 F.2d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1990)
(noting the advisory committee's note to Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b) indicates “when no timely objection is filed the
court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error
on the face of the record”); Branch, 886 F.2d
at 1046 (contrasting de novo review with “clearly
erroneous standard” of review, and recognizing de novo
review was required because objections were filed).
court is unaware of any case that has described the clearly
erroneous standard of review in the context of a district
court's review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation to which no objection has been filed. In other
contexts, however, the Supreme Court has stated the
“foremost” principle under this standard of
review “is that ‘[a] finding is “clearly
erroneous” when although there is evidence to support
it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with
the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.'” Anderson v. City of Bessemer
City, 470 U.S. 564, 573- 74 (1985) (quoting United
States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)).
Thus, the clearly erroneous standard of review is
deferential, see Dixon v. Crete Med. Clinic, P.C.,
498 F.3d 837, 847 (8th Cir. 2007) (noting a finding is not
clearly erroneous even if another view is supported by the
evidence), but a district court may still reject the
magistrate judge's report and recommendation when the
district court is “left with a definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed, ”
U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. at 395.
though some “lesser review” than de novo is not
“positively require[d]” by statute,
Thomas, 474 U.S. at 150, Eighth Circuit precedent
leads this Court to believe that a clearly erroneous standard
of review should generally be used as the baseline standard
to review all findings in a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation that are not objected to or when the parties
fail to file any timely objections, see Grinder, 73
F.3d at 795; Taylor, 910 F.2d at 520;
Branch, 886 F.2d at 1046; see also Fed. R.
Civ. P. 72(b) advisory committee's note (“When no
timely objection is filed, the court need only satisfy itself
that there is no clear error on the face of the record in
order to accept the recommendation.”). In the context
of the review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, the Court believes one further caveat is
necessary: a district court always remains free to render its
own decision under de novo review, regardless of whether it
feels a mistake has been committed. See Thomas, 474
U.S. at 153-54. Thus, although a clearly erroneous standard
of review is deferential and the minimum standard appropriate
in this context, it is not mandatory, and the district court
may choose to apply a less deferential standard.
reviewing the record, the Court finds that Judge Roberts
accurately and thoroughly set forth the relevant facts in his
R&R. (Doc. 43, at 2-7). Further, neither of the parties
have objected to Judge Roberts' summary of the facts
here. Therefore, the Court adopts Judge Roberts' factual
findings as set forth below without modification. (See
id.) (footnotes omitted).
On November 15, 2018 members of the Cedar County Drug Task
Force executed a search warrant at a single-family residence
on Meridian Street in Tipton, Iowa. The residence was the
home of WS. The warrant had been signed two days previously
by an Iowa state court judge. (Gov. Ex. 1.) Tipton Police
Sergeant Bradley Peck executed the affidavit in support of
the warrant. (Id.) Much of the factual basis for the
warrant was obtained from informant CS. CS told Sergeant Peck
and Cedar County Deputy Sheriff Matt Jackson that JT was a
low-level methamphetamine distributor in Tipton who was
supplied by MW. CS told the investigators that JT was living
with WS, a woman. WS had a criminal history including
possession of controlled substances. Moreover, CS told
officers he had been living with WS while also selling
narcotics in Tipton. Sergeant Peck's affidavit states,
“The residence that [JT] was living in with [WS] has a
history of drug use, and people coming and going from the
residence are known drug users.” (Id. at 5.)
The warrant authorized search of the residence as well as the
person of WS. The warrant authorized the search and seizure
of a variety of items relating to drug trafficking including
controlled substances, paraphernalia packaging, items used
for consumption of controlled substances, items used to
manufacture or deliver controlled substances, photographs or
data having information associated with drug trafficking,
weapons, currency, and other items. Significantly, the
warrant authorized search and seizure of “[l]ocked
containers, safes, hidden compartments or other items or
areas capable of storing or concealing any of the other items
listed herein.” (Id. at 10.)
A second application for a search warrant was sought and
obtained after execution of the first warrant. The second
application is identical to the first application except that
it also seeks permission to search Defendant and provides the
12. During the execution of a search warrant at the
residence, MICHELLE SIMMERMAKER was located in the living
room area sleeping on the couch. MICHELLE SIMMERMAKER advised
she has been staying ...