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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division

April 15, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MARKUS AMEER DAVIS, Defendant.

OPINION

JANET T. NEFF United States District Judge

Pending before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Evidence (Dkt 17), seeking the suppression of evidence found during the search of a storage garage that Defendant was renting. The Government has filed a Response (Dkt 20) in opposition. Having fully considered the parties’ arguments and the documentary evidence, the Court determines that no evidentiary hearing on the motion is necessary because the matter can properly be decided on the briefing. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the motion to suppress.

I. Factual Background

Following police surveillance of Defendant selling cocaine to a confidential informant (CI) on July 8, 2013, police officers observed Defendant make a second sale to the same CI on July 11, 2013. After completion of the second sale, officers followed Defendant to a storage facility, U.S. Storage Depot, which he entered and left approximately 15 minutes later. Defendant was driving a rental car. The police confirmed with the storage facility that Defendant rented Unit 5306 at the storage, which was in the building they saw Defendant enter. Upon review of the storage activity log, police determined that Defendant had accessed the unit twice in the two days leading up to the first controlled buy, [1] and once shortly after the second controlled buy, and that the visits were often short. Based on this information, Detective Michael Kalbfleisch swore an affidavit in support of an application for a search warrant for Unit 5306. A state judge signed the warrant on July 17, 2013, and it was executed the same day.

In addition to drug paraphernalia, officers discovered and seized a firearm, a Haskell, Model JHP 45, .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, with an obliterated serial number, later determined to be stolen. The pistol was loaded and nine rounds of .45 caliber ammunition were recovered. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Defendant on November 13, 2013, charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm (Count 1), and with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute (Count 2) based on a search of his residence conducted on a second warrant. Defendant’s motion seeks the suppression of the evidence obtained in the search of the storage unit pertaining to Count 1.[2]

II. Legal Standard

The Fourth Amendment states that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation ….” U.S. Const. amend. IV. Probable cause exists to issue a search warrant when there is a “fair probability, ” given the totality of the circumstances, “that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983); see also United States v. Rose, 714 F.3d 362, 366 (6th Cir. 2013). Where an affidavit is the basis for a probable cause determination, that affidavit “must provide the magistrate with a substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause ….” Gates, 462 U.S. at 239; see also United States v. Gardiner, 463 F.3d 445, 470 (6th Cir. 2006).

An issuing judge’s determination of probable cause must be afforded great deference. Rose, 714 F.3d at 366 (citing United States v. Allen, 211 F.3d 970, 973 (6th Cir. 2000)). When making a probable cause determination, a court is limited to the information presented in the four corners of the affidavit. United States v. Frazier, 423 F.3d 526, 531 (6th Cir. 2005). “[T]he issuing judge must undertake a ‘practical, common sense’ evaluation of ‘all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him.’” United States v. Williams, 544 F.3d 683, 686 (6th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

Under the “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule, even where a search warrant is subsequently held to be defective, the evidence is admissible if the searching officers acted in good faith and seized evidence in “objectively reasonable reliance” on the warrant. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 921-22 (1984); United States v. Czuprynski, 46 F.3d 560, 563-64 (6th Cir. 1995).

There are four situations in which an officer’s reliance would not be reasonable and thus the “good faith exception” would not apply:

(1) where the issuing magistrate or judge was misled by information in an affidavit that the affiant knew was false or would have known was false except for his reckless disregard for the truth;
(2) where the issuing magistrate or judge wholly abandoned his judicial role and failed to act in a neutral and detached fashion, serving merely as a rubber stamp for the police;
(3) where the affidavit was nothing more than a “bare bones” affidavit that did not provide the magistrate with a substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause, or where the affidavit was so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable; and
(4) where the officer’s reliance on the warrant was not in good faith or objectively reasonable, such as where the ...

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