United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge.
matter is before the Court upon Defendant's Objection to
the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Facts, Conclusions of
Law, and Recommendation (“R&R”) (DN 41) to
Defendant's Motion to Suppress (DN 31). For the reasons
outlined below, the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Facts,
Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation
(“R&R”) (DN 40) is ADOPTED,
and Defendant's Objection is OVERRULED.
R&R sets forth the relevant facts in detail. The Court
sees no need to recite those facts again and, therefore,
incorporates them by reference. (R. & R. 2-6, DN 40).
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
[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
judge]'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)
R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended the partial grant
and the partial denial of Defendant Eduardo Rojas Clark's
(“Clark”) Motion to Suppress. (R. & R. 23).
In particular, the Magistrate Judge recommended suppressing
any statement that Clark made to law enforcement during
custodial detention after the completion of the traffic stop
and prior to the issuance of a Miranda warning at
the vehicle inspection facility. (R. & R. 16-18). The
Magistrate Judge, however, concluded that: (i) there was
probable cause for the traffic stop; (ii) the stop was not
unconstitutionally extended; (iii) Texas State Trooper Robert
Samuel Ben Dollar (“Trooper Dollar”) had no
obligation to provide a Miranda warning relating to
the routine questioning while he processed the traffic stop;
(iv) Clark consented to the search of the vehicle; and (v)
the officers gave Clark a Miranda warning at the
vehicle inspection facility and any statements made
subsequent to that warning are admissible. (R. & R. 7-16,
objects to the R&R on the bases that: (i) Trooper Dollar
did not have probable cause for the initial traffic stop;
(ii) the drugs discovered during the search of the vehicle
should be suppressed because of the suppression of the
custodial interrogation; and (iii) Clark did not waive his
Miranda rights at the vehicle inspection facility
where the vehicle search occurred.(Def.'s Obj. 2-4). Each
basis will be addressed below.
Initial Traffic Stop
argues that Trooper Dollar did not have probable cause for
the initial traffic stop. (Def.'s Obj. 3). “The
Fourth Amendment, applicable to the states through the
Fourteenth, generally prohibits unreasonable searches and
seizures.” United States v. Hollis, No.
5:14-70-DCR, 2014 WL 5471033, at *4 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 28, 2014).
“‘An ordinary traffic stop by a police officer is
a ‘seizure' within the meaning of the Fourth [and
Fourteenth] Amendment[s].'” Id. (quoting
United States v. Blair, 524 F.3d 740, 748 (6th Cir.
2008)). An officer may lawfully “stop a car when he has
probable cause to believe that a civil traffic violation has
occurred, or reasonable suspicion of an ongoing crime”
United States v. Jackson, 682 F.3d 448, 453 (6th
Cir. 2012) (citing Blair, 524 F.3d at 748).
“The probable cause determination requires a common
sense, totality of the circumstances assessment of the basis
for a seizure or search.” Hollis, 2014 WL
5471033, at *4. “Probable cause for a traffic stop is
‘a reasonable ground for belief, supported by less than
prima facie proof but more than mere suspicion.'”
Id. (quoting Blair, 524 F.3d at 748). A
court must determine whether “‘the facts and
circumstances within [the officers'] knowledge and of
which [they] had reasonably trustworthy information [are]
sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the
belief that' an offense has been or is being
committed.'” Id. (quoting United
States v. Hughes, 606 F.3d 311, 320 (6th Cir. 2010)).
“Importantly, the probable cause standard is objective.
‘Subjective intentions play no role in probable cause
Fourth Amendment analysis.'” Id. (quoting
Schneider v. Franklin Cty., 288 F. App'x 247,
251 (6th Cir. 2008)).
maintains that Trooper Dollar misconstrued the Texas
law-Section 545.157 of the Texas Transportation Code-upon
which the stop was based, and as a result, the officer lacked
probable cause for the traffic stop. (Def.'s Obj. 3). In
making this argument, Clark cites to Trooper Dollar's
testimony early in the suppression hearing. (Def.'s Obj.
3 (quoting Suppression Hr'g Tr. 6:18-7:5, DN 38)). To the
extent that there was any issue with Trooper Dollar's
understanding or explanation of the statute, it was clarified
during cross-examination. In response to a question posed by
Clark's counsel, Trooper Dollar testified as follows:
Q. So the blue car there is supposed to be in the left-hand
lane as it goes past your car; is that it?
A. Yes, sir, or slowed 20 below the posted limit.
Hr'g Tr. 26:24-27:1). In a subsequent colloquy, Trooper
Q. Now, the statute that we are talking about here is-I think
you talked about it. You have two choices. You can either-it
says, “On approaching a vehicle described in Subsection
(a)”-which we will all agree is your car or your
vehicle-you should “(1) vacate the lane closest to the