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United States v. Joseph

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, at Louisville

July 27, 2015

SHILO T. JOSEPH, Defendant.


CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for consideration of the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge concerning defendant Shilo T. Joseph's motion to suppress evidence (DN 25), and Joseph's objections thereto. The magistrate judge recommended that the suppression motion be denied. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will accept and adopt the magistrate judge's report in its entirety and deny the motion to suppress.


On December 30, 2014, law enforcement officers conducted a search of Joseph's home at 5106 Gathwright Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. The search yielded the seizure of 65 grams of heroin, digital scales, and 2 firearms. An additional quantity of heroin was seized from a rental vehicle. Joseph has challenged the validity of the search warrant pursuant to which the search of his home was conducted. He also challenges the admissibility of his post-arrest statements. Joseph seeks to suppress the seized evidence and post-arrest statements at his trial on drug trafficking and weapons charges.

Joseph moved for suppression on the grounds that (1) the affidavit in support of the search warrant did not establish probable cause to believe that evidence of heroin trafficking would be found at 5106 Gathwright Drive on the date of the search; and (2) that his post-arrest statements were obtained without Joseph being given the Miranda warning.

The matter was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for an evidentiary hearing and for the submission of findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation as to the disposition of the suppression motion. The magistrate judge heard evidence concerning the taking of Joseph's post-arrest statements.

Upon consideration of the evidence and the argument of counsel on both suppression issues, the magistrate judge issued his report. He expounded at length concerning deficiencies in the affidavit for search warrant. (DN 44, pp. 6-21). He found that the affidavit lacked sufficient factual content upon which the issuing judicial officer could find probable cause to believe that contraband or evidence of a crime would be found at the Gathwright Drive premises. He concluded, however, that the exclusionary rule should not be invoked in this instance to preclude the government from introducing the seized evidence, as a reasonably well-trained law enforcement officer could have relied in good faith on the defective search warrant. Additionally, the magistrate judge concluded, based upon the suppression hearing testimony, that Joseph made a knowing and voluntary waiver of his rights after being read the Miranda warning by the DEA agent who questioned him. Thus the magistrate judge recommended that Joseph's suppression motions be denied.

Joseph filed objections to the magistrate judge's report. These objections are presently before the court.


A. The Search of Gathwright Drive

Joseph does not take issue with any of the findings of the magistrate judge concerning the deficiencies in the affidavit for search warrant. Upon review of the affidavit, this court is in agreement that the affidavit does not contain sufficient information upon which to base a finding of probable cause. The question remains, however, whether the affidavit is sufficient to meet the test established in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984) for the admission at trial of evidence seized in good faith pursuant to a defective warrant. Joseph urges that the affidavit is "bare bones" and thus "so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable." Leon, 468 U.S. at 923.

As noted in United States v. Neal, No. 13-5875, 577 Fed.Appx. 434 (Aug. 18, 2014),

The Supreme Court created the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 922, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984), explaining that the deterrent effect of excluding evidence obtained through unlawful conduct is not furthered by "suppressing evidence obtained in objectively reasonable reliance on a subsequently invalidated search warrant." An officer's reliance on a deficient warrant is not in good faith where "a reasonably well trained officer would have known that the search was illegal despite the magistrate's authorization." Id. at 922 n. 23, 104 S.Ct. 3405.

The standard for a finding of good faith is a less demanding one than the "substantial basis" test utilized in assessing an affidavit for probable cause. United States v. Carpenter, 360 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2004). "Thus, it is entirely possible that an affidavit contains a minimally sufficient nexus between the illegal activity and the place to be searched to support an officer's good-faith belief in the warrant's ...

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