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United States v. Wilson

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 26, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANDON KENTRELL WILSON, Defendant.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF United States District Judge

         This case is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 69), in which he seeks to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant. Because the Motion can be decided on the parties' submissions, no evidentiary hearing is necessary. See United States v. Lawhorn, 467 Fed.Appx. 493, 495 (6th Cir. 2012) (challenges to the existence of probable cause, including the issue of staleness, are questions of law, which can be resolved without an evidentiary hearing). For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Motion to Suppress.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 18, 2016, Detective Danny Wills, a narcotics detective assigned to the Metropolitan Enforcement Team (MET), made application to a state magistrate judge for the issuance of a search warrant to search one home in a duplex, 2988 Burlingame Avenue, SW, Wyoming, Michigan, and the person of Defendant Brandon Kentrell Wilson, for evidence of drug trafficking and controlled substances. The warrant application was based on Wills' supporting affidavit of controlled drug buys from Defendant and related activity of Defendant coming from and returning to the residence at 2988 Burlingame Avenue (ECF No. 69 at PagelD. 172-175).

         The magistrate judge issued the search warrant, and it was executed that same day (ECF No. 69 at PagelD. 170-171, 176-177.) The warrant authorized the seizure of records indicating the trafficking of controlled substances, including telephone records, financial records, photographs, electronic records, occupancy records, property records, drug and tax records; "[a]ny and all quantities of controlled substances"; "[a]ny quantities of money tending to establish the illicit act of selling drugs and any other controlled substance"; and any firearms and ammunition used for the protection of controlled substances or such business (id. at PagelD. 170).

         The evidence seized in the search included over $1, 300 in cash, multiple quantities of marijuana, a "white container with suspected heroin and cocaine, " multiple scales, plastic baggies with "heroin residue, " other packaging items, "misc. papers, " a .20 gauge shotgun, and a cell phone (ECF No. 69 at PagelD. 176-77). Defendant now seeks suppression of all evidence obtained in the search on the grounds that the affidavit was insufficient and the information in the application was stale.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation ... ." U.S. Const, amend. IV. The Supreme Court has defined probable cause in this context as "a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983).

         The duty of a magistrate reviewing a search warrant application is "simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, ... there is fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." Gates, 462 U.S. at 238. This determination is limited to the contents (the "four corners") of the affidavit itself. United States v. Dyer, 580 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2009). It is to be made on the basis of the "'totality of the circumstances ... rather than a line-by-line scrutiny.'" United States v. Johnson, 351 F.3d 254, 258 (6th Cir. 2003) (quotations and citations omitted).

         Where the magistrate's determination of probable cause is being challenged, "the task of a reviewing court is not to conduct a de novo determination of probable cause, but only to determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record supporting the magistrate's decision to issue the warrant." Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. 727, 728 (1984); see also Gates, 462 U.S. at 238. "[S]o long as the magistrate had a 'substantial basis for ... concluding]' that a search would uncover evidence of wrongdoing, the Fourth Amendment requires no more." Gates, 462 U.S. at 236 (alterations in original) (quoting Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 271 (I960)). '"A magistrate's determination of probable cause is afforded great deference by the reviewing court, ' and should only be reversed if arbitrarily made." Johnson, 351 F.3d at 258 (quoting United States v. Greene, 250 F.3d 471, 478 (6th Cir. 2001)); see also United States v. Brown, 732 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2013).

         "[C]ourts should not invalidate [] warrant[s] by interpreting [] affidavit[s] in a hypertechnical, rather than a commonsense, manner." United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 108(1965).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant advances two challenges to the search warrant: (1) the search warrant application lacked probable cause to conclude that contraband or evidence of a crime would be found at 2988 Burlingame; and (2) the information in the affidavit was stale at the time the application was presented to the magistrate judge.

         A. Nexus

         Contrary to Defendant's argument, the content of the search warrant affidavit established a sufficient nexus between the illegal activity and the Burlingame residence. ...


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