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United States v. Coleman

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 3, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ronald Lewis Coleman, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: January 17, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:17-cr-00136-1-Paul Lewis Maloney, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Clare E. Freeman, THE FEDERAL DEFENSE GROUP, P.L.L.C., La Porte, Texas, for Appellant.

          Sally J. Berens, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Clare E. Freeman, THE FEDERAL DEFENSE GROUP, P.L.L.C., La Porte, Texas, for Appellant.

          Davin M. Reust, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: BOGGS, KETHLEDGE, and NALBANDIAN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          BOGGS, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Defendant Ronald Coleman appeals the district court's denial of a motion to suppress the fruits of a warrant for vehicle tracking and a residential search warrant on the grounds that the warrants lacked probable cause and that law enforcement's installation of the vehicle tracker violated the Fourth Amendment. Because the warrants were amply supported by probable cause and the officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment when installing the tracker, we affirm.

         I

         On March 9, 2017, law-enforcement agents began investigating Eddie Powell, a drug dealer, and his sources of narcotics. A cooperating defendant[1] identified one of those sources as the defendant, Ronald Coleman. Officers began investigating Coleman and observed his two automobiles, a brown Trailblazer and a white Buick Enclave, in connection with suspected drug sales to Powell. Specifically, on April 7, 2017, law-enforcement officers observed an individual matching Coleman's description arrive at Powell's house, get out of Coleman's Enclave, enter the house, and leave three minutes later. Then, four days later, Coleman arrived at Powell's house in the Trailblazer and sold cocaine to the cooperating defendant.

         Around this time, a law-enforcement agent checked Coleman's criminal history and determined he had felony convictions in 2006 and 2009 for delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance. The agent also discovered that both vehicles were registered to Coleman's father and observed that, in his experience, drug traffickers frequently register their vehicles in the names of family or friends to conceal their identities. The agent detailed all of these findings, as well as the facts from the suspected drug sales, in a supporting affidavit and, on April 19, 2017, obtained tracking warrants from a federal magistrate judge for Coleman's Enclave and Trailblazer on the belief that tracking those vehicles would provide evidence of their involvement in the distribution of narcotics.[2]

         On April 20, 2017, an ATF agent attached the tracking devices to Coleman's Enclave and Trailblazer. To apply the trackers, the agent went to Coleman's condominium on East Springtree Lane SW in Grand Rapids, which is part of the Silverleaf Condominium Complex, a collection of ...


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