United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE FROM
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
October 12, 2016, an indictment was issued which charged
Michael Allen Pratt, Jr., and twelve other Defendants with
participating in a large-scale conspiracy to possess and
distribute controlled substances. ECF No. 16. Pratt, Jr., is
charged in Count One, conspiracy to possess and distribute
cocaine and heroin; Count Twenty-Six, distribution of heroin
on October 26, 2015; Count Twenty-Seven, distribution of
heroin on October 29, 2015; Count Twenty-Eight, distribution
of heroin on November 4, 2015; Count Twenty-Nine,
distribution of heroin on November 23, 2015; and Count
Thirty, distribution of heroin and fentanyl, aiding and
April 12, 2017, Pratt, Jr., filed a motion to suppress video
evidence the Government obtained via a “pole
camera” that was installed and operated without a
warrant. ECF No. 181. On May 23, 2017, a hearing was held.
For the reasons provided below and on the record, the motion
to suppress will be denied.
material facts are undisputed. On July 11, 2014, a fire
occurred in the residence on 3253 Grant Street, Saginaw,
Michigan. Prior to the fire, Pratt, Jr., his girlfriend, and
their children lived in the Grant Street house. The property
was owned by Pratt, Sr. Since the fire occurred, the building
has been uninhabited. On or about January 28, 2016, Pratt,
Jr., rented a dumpster and began clearing portions of the
August 12, 2015, a “pole camera” was placed on a
utility pole near the intersection of Grant Street and
Youmans Street in Saginaw. The camera was positioned to
record views of the front yard of the Grant Street house. It
was incapable of recording any part of the interior of the
house. FBI investigators were capable of accessing the camera
remotely and had the ability to pan the camera right or left
and zoom in. The video feed was recorded and stored on an FBI
server. When first installed, the camera operated 24 hours
per day. It did not have infrared capability.
on approximately September 17, 2016, the camera ran from 8:00
a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Around April 12, 2016, the camera's
operational schedule increased by one hour: running until
9:00 p.m. On April 20, 2016, the schedule changed to record
until 10:00 p.m. Finally, on June 17, 2016, the schedule was
modified so that the camera recorded from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00
p.m. The camera ceased operation on October 24, 2016.
camera was originally installed and operated without a
warrant. On February 8, 2016, investigators applied for and
received a warrant to operate the camera. On May 9, 2016, and
August 2, 2016, additional warrants were issued. Thus, the
investigators were engaged in warrantless surveillance, via
the pole camera, from approximately August 12, 2015, to
February 8, 2016.
general, warrantless searches and seizures presumptively
violate the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
U.S. const. amend IV.
speaking, the requirement that searches be reasonable means
law enforcement officials must obtain a judicially approved
warrant before engaging in the search. Riley v.
California, 134 S.Ct. 2473, 2482 (2014).
the Fourth Amendment does not protect defendants against all
warrantless searches and seizures, simply “unreasonable
searches and seizures.” U.S. const. amend IV. To
establish a violation of the Fourth Amendment, a defendant
must show (1) a “subjective expectation of
privacy” in the area searched and (2) that the
expectation of privacy, viewed ...