United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
SUPPRESS (ECF NO. 20)
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 20, 2018, Defendant Michael Thompson
(“Defendant”) was indicted with one count of
felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1) and one count of felon in possession of
ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (ECF
No. 9.) This matter is before the Court on Defendant's
Motion to Suppress, filed December 6, 2018. (ECF No. 20.) The
motion has been fully briefed, and the Court dispensed with
oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2).
September 5, 2018, Magistrate Judge David Grand of the
Eastern District of Michigan issued a search warrant on the
property located at XXXX/XXXX 16th Street, Detroit, Michigan.
(ECF No. 20-1 at Pg ID 25.) The affiant stated that, as an
FBI Special Agent since March 2004, he has conducted and
participated in numerous investigations that have resulted in
the seizure of illegal narcotics and firearms. (Id.
at Pg ID 2-3.) The affiant believed the property located at
XXXX/XXXX 16th Street contained firearms based on his
personal knowledge and the personal knowledge of a
confidential informant, whose information has been
corroborated by surveillance and other techniques during this
investigation and whose information has led to prior arrests
and convictions resulting in confiscations of firearms and
illegal narcotics. (Id. at Pg ID 12-13.) Because the
informant provided previously reliable and accurate
information and that information was corroborated by
surveillance video, the affiant believed the informant to be
credible. (Id. at 14-17.) Additionally, a
cooperating witness provided further information concerning
Defendant, which was also corroborated by physical
surveillance and other techniques in the investigation.
(Id. at Pg ID 16.) On September 6, 2018, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation Violent Gang Task Force
(“VGTF”) executed the Search Warrant at the
property at XXXX/XXXX 16th Street, Detroit, Michigan. (ECF
No. 20 at Pg ID 1.)
Applicable Law & Analysis
the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
requires officers to obtain a warrant prior to conducting a
search. United States v. Smith, 510 F.3d 641, 647
(6th Cir. 2007). “A warrant will be upheld if the
affidavit provides a ‘substantial basis' for the
issuing magistrate to believe ‘there is a fair
probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be
found in a particular place.' ” Id. at 652
(quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238
(1983)). In other words, “the circumstances must
indicate why evidence of illegal activity will be found
‘in a particular place.' There must be a
‘nexus between the place to be searched and the
evidence sought.' ” United States v.
Carpenter, 360 F.3d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). “To meet the nexus requirement, ‘[t]he
connection between the residence and the evidence of criminal
activity must be specific and concrete, not ‘vague'
or ‘generalized.' ” United States v.
Fritts, No. 16-20554, 2016 WL 7178739 at *3 (E.D. Mich.
Dec. 9, 2016) (quoting United States v. Brown, 828
F.3d 35, 382 (6th Cir. 2016).
reviewing court must afford great deference to a magistrate
judge's probable cause determination. United States
v. Allen, 211 F.3d 970, 973 (6th Cir. 2000) (en
banc); United States v. Finch, 998 F.2d 349,
352 (6th Cir. 1993). The probable cause standard is a
“practical, non-technical conception” guided by
the “factual and practical considerations of everyday
life.” United States v. Frazier, 423 F.3d 526,
531 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Gates, 462 U.S. at
231). “Courts should review the sufficiency of the
affidavit in a commonsense, rather than hypertechnical
manner.” United States v. Greene, 250 F.3d
471, 479 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “[R]eview
of an affidavit and search warrant should rely on a
‘totality of the circumstances' determination,
rather than a line-by-line scrutiny.” Id. The
court's review, however, is limited to the four corners
of the affidavit. Frazier, 423 F.3d at 531. As such,
a magistrate judge's decision to grant a search warrant
should be reversed only if it was arbitrarily exercised.
Allen, 211 F.3d at 973; Finch, 998 F.2d at
Supreme Court has held that evidence seized in reasonable,
good-faith reliance on a search warrant that is subsequently
held to be defective generally does not need to be
suppressed. Frazier, 423 F.3d at 533 (citing
United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 905 (1984)).
The relevant inquiry is an objective one, asking
“whether a reasonably well trained officer would have
known that the search was illegal despite the
magistrate's authorization.” Id. (citing
Leon, 468 U.S. at 922-23, n.23.) This “good
faith” exception is not applicable where: 1) the
issuing magistrate “was misled by information in an
affidavit that the affiant knew was false or would have known
was false except for his reckless disregard of the
truth”; 2) the issuing magistrate wholly abandoned his
or her judicial role; 3) the affidavit is “so lacking
in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in
its existence entirely unreasonable”; or 4) the
warrant is so facially deficient that the executing officers
cannot reasonably presume it to be valid. Leon, 468
U.S. at 923 (citations omitted).
motion turns on whether the search warrant was supported by
probable cause or, alternatively, whether the officers
reasonably relied on the warrant's validity. Defendant
contends that the search warrant was obtained without
probable cause because the information was “stale,
” tenuous, and it lacked specificity with regard to:
(1) the description of the firearm, (2) when exactly the
informant observed a weapon at the target property, and (3)
the exact location and number of firearms at the target
property. (ECF No. 20.) The Court is convinced, however, that
the affiant sufficiently articulated facts to provide a
“substantial basis” for the magistrate to believe
that there was a “fair probability” that a
firearm would be found at the target property.
affiant established that on August 24, 2018, shortly before
the execution of the Search Warrant: (1) Defendant brandished
a firearm at an individual at the Valero gas station on
Linwood Street in Detroit, (2) Defendant travelled to the
target property and returned moments later with a firearm,
and (3) after brandishing the firearm, Defendant returned to
the target property, which was approximately three blocks
away. (ECF No. 20-1.) This series of events was captured and
corroborated by video surveillance, and the affiant
articulated Defendant's status as a felon and his
connection to the target property. (Id.)
the Court agrees with the Government that, standing alone,
the above facts sufficiently established probable cause. The
Court further concludes that these facts establish a
sufficient nexus between the target property and the firearm
sought by law enforcement. See United States v.
O'Conner, No. 16-4321, 723 Fed.Appx. 302, 310 (6th
Cir. Feb. 5, 2018) (“the issuing magistrate could have
reasonably inferred that [defendant] was keeping the weapon
either in the rented car or at the residence where the car
was seen parked”).
to the Defendant's arguments, the Court finds that
probable cause existed for a search for “any
firearms” because the affidavit contained sufficient
information to believe Defendant possessed a firearm, and the
Defendant, a felon, was prohibited from possessing
any firearms. See United States v.
Campbell, 256 F.3d 381, 389 (6th Cir. 2001),
abrogated on other grounds by Begay v. United
States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008) (Because “possession
of any weapon would potentially be illegal under these
statutes, it was not improper for the search warrant for
[defendant's] residence to cover ‘[a]ny and all
the argument that the affiant's information was stale is
without merit. A witness and surveillance video observed
Defendant's illegal possession of a firearm only twelve
days before the search warrant was obtained. The Sixth
Circuit has found information not stale when searches were
conducted after longer periods. See, e.g.,
United States v. Pritchett, No. 00-1160, 2002 WL
1478584, 40 Fed.Appx. 901, 905-06 (6th Cir. July 9, 2002)
(“Firearms are durable goods and might well be expected
to remain in a criminal's possession for a long period of
time.”); United States v. Lancaster, No.
04-5826, 2005 WL 1799385, 145 Fed.Appx. 508, 513 (6th Cir.
July 28, 2005) (“Given the durable nature of firearms
and [defendant's admission to the confidential informant]
that he possessed machine guns, such information is not stale
for purposes of the warrant.”).
the Court rejects Defendant's argument that the Search
Warrant lacked probable cause because it did not identify the
exact location of the target firearm. It is not required that
a search warrant state the exact location of the firearm
within a property. As a result, the Court concludes that the