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United States v. Parker

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

October 21, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JERRY L. PARKER, JR DUSTIN R. COPLEY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Parker's Motion to Suppress (Doc. # 19) evidence seized during a traffic stop conducted on March 28, 2013 in Ashland, Kentucky. Defendant Copley has joined in Parker's motion (Doc. # 23).

On July 29, 2013, the Court held an evidentiary hearing to consider two issues: (1) whether the officer had probable cause to effectuate a traffic stop of the vehicle, and (2) whether the canine who positively alerted on the vehicle for the presence of a narcotic odor was properly trained and therefore reliable. During the hearing a third, related issue was raised by counsel. More specifically, Defendants also challenge the length of the detention, arguing that their continued detention to allow a canine to be summoned to conduct a canine sniff was unreasonable. Attorney Michael Curtis appeared on behalf of Defendant Parker, and Attorney Sebastian Joy appeared on behalf of Defendant Copley, each of whom were present. Assistant United States Attorney Elaine Leonhard appeared on behalf of the United States.

Subsequent to the hearing, the parties submitted memoranda setting forth their respective arguments (Doc. # 29, 30). The motion is therefore ripe for decision. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will deny Defendant's motion.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

(1) On the evening of March 28, 2013, Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Goodall, Trooper Zachary Thompson, and Detective Chris Kirk were patrolling the area around the Greyhound bus station in Ashland, Kentucky, looking for suspected drug trafficking activity.[1]

(2) Shortly before 8:40 p.m. that evening, Detective Kirk advised Trooper Goodall that a white Lincoln Town Car was leaving the bus station. It was dark outside.

(3) Trooper Goodall pulled behind the Lincoln Town Car after it had exited the bus station. Once he had pulled in behind the vehicle, Goodall saw that the license plate was obscured by a tinted cover. The tinted cover made the plate illegible, especially at night.

(4) After following the vehicle for only a few blocks, Trooper Goodall made the decision to stop the Lincoln Town Car because he felt the license plate was not legible as required by K.R.S. ยง 186.170(1). As he was activating his lights, he observed the passenger, later identified as Defendant Parker, turn around, put his arm around the driver, later identified as Defendant Copley, and place something behind on the back seat on the driver's side.

(5) Once the Lincoln Town Car was stopped, Trooper Goodall was able to make out the registration, which, when relayed to dispatch, came back as not on file.

(6) Trooper Goodall then approached the vehicle and asked the driver and passenger for identification. They complied, Copley handing Trooper Goodall his Huntington, West Virginia drivers license, and Parker providing him a Detroit, Michigan identification.

(7) Once Trooper Goodall had identified both subjects he asked Copley to exit the vehicle. Copley told Trooper Goodall that he had just picked up Parker at the bus station and they were headed to Parker's brother's residence on Thirteenth Street in Ashland. However, Copley could not provide any street address.

(8) Trooper Goodall then proceeded to speak with Mr. Parker, who was still in the vehicle. Parker told Trooper Goodall the exact same story, that he had been picked up by Copley at the bus station and they were going to his brother's house on Thirteenth Street. However, he did not know the street address for his own brother's house. That Parker did not know his brother's address piqued Goodall interest.

(9) At this point in the encounter Trooper Goodall asked Copley for consent to search the vehicle. Copley declined. After Copley refused consent, Trooper Goodall requested Parker exit the vehicle and sit down on the curb behind the vehicle next to Copley. Approximately ...


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