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United States v. Clayton

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

August 9, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
EARL CLAYTON III DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES R. SIMPSON III, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         I. Introduction

         A federal grand jury indicted Earl Clayton III and his co-defendant, Earl Clayton IV, for conspiracy to “knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin” in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). Indictment 1, ECF No. 14.

         Clayton III moved to suppress all statements he made and evidence obtained as a result of custodial interrogations that occurred on November 24, 2015. Clayton III's Mot. Suppress Statements 1, ECF No. 42. The United States responded. United States' Resp. Opp. Mot. Suppress Statements 1, ECF No. 44. Clayton III then moved to suppress all evidence seized as a result of a search and seizure of his vehicle and person that also occurred on November 24, 2015. Clayton III's Mot. Suppress Evidence 1, ECF No. 44. The United States again responded. United States' Resp. Opp. Mot. Suppress Evidence 1, ECF No. 45. Clayton III then jointly replied to the United States' responses to the motions to suppress. Clayton III's Reply 1, ECF No. 74.

         The magistrate judge held an evidentiary hearing on Clayton III's suppression motions. Order 2/2/2017 1, ECF No. 62. Clayton III and the United States filed post-hearing briefs. Clayton III's Mem. 1, ECF No. 70; United States' Mem. 1, ECF No. 66. The magistrate judge recommended that Clayton III's motions to suppress be denied. R. & R. 17, ECF No. 75.

         Clayton III filed objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. Clayton III's Obj. R. & R., ECF No. 76. For the reasons explained below, the Court will overrule Clayton III's objections.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court makes a de novo determination of the proposed findings or recommendations to which Clayton III objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3).

         III. Discussion

         Clayton III appears to make two principal objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. First, Clayton III objects to the magistrate judge's conclusion that the government had reasonable suspicion, supported by specific and articulable facts, to seize and search him when he drove away from Clayton IV's residence at 5100 Roederer Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. Clayton III's Obj. 28-32, ECF No. 76. Second, Clayton III objects to the magistrate judge's determination that law enforcement gave him the required Miranda warnings. Id. at 33-34.

         A. Whether the Government Had Reasonable Suspicion to Seize Clayton III when He Drove Away from Clayton IV's Residence at 5100 Roederer Drive

         Turning to Clayton III's first objection to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV. The Fourth Amendment permits brief investigative stops of a vehicle when a law enforcement officer has “reasonable suspicion of an ongoing crime.” United States v. Blair, 524 F.3d 740, 752 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing United States v. Sanford, 476 F.3d 391, 394 (6th Cir. 2007)).

         Reasonable suspicion requires the law enforcement officer to “have a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.” United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18 (1981). This standard takes into account “the totality of the circumstances-the whole picture.” Id. at 417. A “hunch” does not give rise to reasonable suspicion, but reasonable suspicion requires “considerably less than proof of wrongdoing by a preponderance of the evidence and obviously less than is necessary for probable cause.” Navarette v. California, 134 S.Ct. 1683, 1687 (2014) (internal citations omitted).

         “[N]ervous, evasive behavior” may be one factor in determining whether there is reasonable suspicion. United States v. Caruthers, 458 F.3d 459, 466 (6th Cir. 2006). Likewise, the suspect's criminal history may also be taken into consideration in determining whether there is reasonable suspicion, although criminal history, by itself, does not give rise to reasonable suspicion. Joshua v. DeWitt, 341 F.3d 430, 446 (6th Cir. 2003). Determining whether reasonable suspicion exists may also include “the relevant characteristics of a location, ...


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