United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, United States District Court, Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Objections
(DN 33) to the Magistrate Judge's Finding of Fact,
Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (DN 30). For the
following reasons, Magistrate Judge Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) is ADOPTED and Defendant's
Objections are OVERRULED.
18, 2015, a 911 caller, who was identified as the brother of
Defendant Doug Chaplin (“Chaplin”), reported that
Chaplin was discharging one or more firearms near the
brother's cabin. (R. & R. 2, DN 30). Because Chaplin
is a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a
firearm. (R. & R. 2). The 911 dispatcher relayed the
contents of the call to the reporting units. (R. & R. 2).
As the Magistrate Judge noted, the information relayed
included: (i) a person by Defendant's name was shooting
guns at or behind a residence; (ii) Chaplin is a convicted
felon who is very dangerous and has used methamphetamine in
the past; (iii) he may have been shooting automatic weapons;
(iv) information about the scene of the shooting; (v) an
apparent statement by Chaplin that he would not go back to
jail; (vi) a report of hearing ten to twelve shots per
minutes, and that weapons are of four different calibers,
including potentially a shotgun; and (vii) two males were
leaving the cabin in a maroon Toyota 4Runner at a high rate
of speed and the direction they were traveling. (R. & R.
2-3 (citing Hr'g Ex. 1A)).
Rusty Anderson (“Detective Anderson”) of the
Barren County Sheriff's Office was the first reporting
officer to encounter the burgundy Toyota 4Runner operated by
Chaplin traveling in the opposite direction. (R. & R. 3).
Detective Anderson radioed his observations to the other
units and turned around to pursue the vehicle. (R. & R.
3). The other responding units, which included Deputy Chris
Wyatt (“Deputy Wyatt”), Deputy Mike Houchens
(“Deputy Houchens”), Detective Eric Guffey
(“Detective Guffey”), and Trooper B.J. Eaton
pulled over to await Chaplin, and after he passed, the units
pursued him with their lights and sirens activated. (R. &
R. 3). Chaplin then turned off Burkesville Road onto Kino
Road at what the Magistrate Judge characterized as a
slow-speed chase at a speed of ten to fifteen miles per hour.
(R. & R. 3). Approximately one mile later, Chaplin
stopped at his mother's residence. (R. & R. 3). Both
Defendant and his passenger denied any awareness of the
police pursuit because Chaplin had the car stereo playing at
a high volume. (R. & R. 4).
the vehicle came to a stop, the officers exited their
vehicles and took defensive positions with weapons drawn. (R.
& R. 4). After Chaplin was ordered to exit the vehicle,
he left the vehicle several minutes later with his hands in
the air. (R. & R. 4). The officers ordered him to walk
back towards the officers, and then Chaplin was handcuffed.
(R. & R. 4). No weapons or contraband were found on
Defendant when he was searched. (R. & R. 4).
to Deputy Wyatt's testimony, he asked Chaplin about the
location of the firearms after Defendant was handcuffed. (R.
& R. 4). While Chaplin initially denied possessing any
weapons, he eventually admitted that there were weapons in
the back of the Toyota 4Runner. (R. & R. 4). During the
evidentiary hearing, Trooper Eaton also recalled hearing
Chaplin tell another officer that the firearms were in the
back of the vehicle. (R. & R. 4). No one disputes that
the exchange about the location of the firearms occurred
before Chaplin received a Miranda warning. (R. &
Wyatt had to obtain assistance from Chaplin to open the rear
hatch of the vehicle. (R. & R. 4). Deputy Wyatt testified
that the firearms were in plain view, but he could not
otherwise see the firearms until the hatch was opened. (R.
& R. 4). Chaplin has disputed Deputy Wyatt's
recollection of that event and testified that he only told
the officers that the lock did not work. (R. & R. 4-5).
Anderson, Deputy Houchens, and Deputy Guffey were responsible
for removing the passenger from the vehicle. (R. & R. 5).
During the hearing, Deputy Guffey testified that he observed
a digital scale on top of the center console and an empty
handgun holster between the front and rear seats in plain
view. (R. & R. 5). After the search of the vehicle, the
officers found additional physical evidence to support the
crimes charged. (R. & R. 5).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598 (6th Cir.
2001), the Sixth Circuit articulated the proper standard of
review for objections to a ruling or recommendation by a
Magistrate Judge, stating:
[Section] 636(b) creates two different standards of review
for district courts when a magistrate court's finding is
challenged in district court. A district court shall apply a
“clearly erroneous or contrary to law” standard
of review for the “nondispositive” preliminary
measures of § 636(b)(1)(A). Conversely,
“dispositive motions” excepted from §
636(b)(1)(A), such as motions for summary judgment or for
the suppression of evidence, are governed by the de
Id. at 603 (emphasis added) (internal citation
omitted) (citation omitted). “When a magistrate's
findings and recommendations rest upon the evaluation of the
credibility of a witness, the district court is not required
to rehear the testimony in order to conduct a de
novo determination of the issues.” United
States v. Bermudez, No. 99-6097, 2000 WL 1871676, at *3
(6th Cir. Dec. 11, 2000) (citing United States v.
Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980)).
“Credibility determinations of the magistrate judge who
personally listened to the testimony . . . should be accepted
unless in [its] de novo review of the record [the district
court] finds a reason to question the magistrate judge's
assessment.” United States v. Johnson, No.
10-20176, 2011 WL 3844194, at *2 (W.D. Tenn. Aug. 30, 2011)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (citations omitted).