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United States v. Booker

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

August 17, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JUSTIN AVERY BOOKER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID J. HALE, JUDGE

         Defendant Justin Booker is charged with possessing heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine with intent to distribute them and being a felon in possession of a firearm. (Docket No. 1) He has filed two motions to suppress. (D.N. 20, 21) The first motion seeks suppression of statements or evidence obtained through Booker's interrogation by law enforcement at his home on May 12, 2016, on the ground that Booker's waiver of his Miranda rights may have been invalid. (D.N. 20, PageID # 47) The second motion argues that statements in the affidavit supporting the search warrant executed at Booker's home were false or made in reckless disregard of the truth. (D.N. 21, PageID # 53) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on August 2, 2017, and took the motions under advisement. (D.N. 30) Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Court will deny Booker's motions to suppress.

         I.

         On May 12, 2016, Louisville Metro Police Department Detective William Bower sought a warrant to search Booker's home at 4308 Belrad Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. (D.N. 31, PageID # 83) In his affidavit supporting the warrant request, Bower stated that “[a] reliable confidential informant . . . said that Justin Booker is selling cocaine and other drugs from 4308 Belrad Dr[ive] while in possession of handguns. This informant has proven his/her reliability in the past with information which resulted in numerous felony arrests/convictions and drug seizures.” (D.N. 21-1, PageID # 57) Bower further averred that he “ha[d] personal experience with Booker selling narcotics from this location” three years earlier (id.) and that “[w]ithin the last 48 hours a controlled narcotics buy was made from Booker at 4308 Belrad Dr.” (Id., PageID # 58)

         The search warrant was issued and executed later the same day. (D.N. 31, PageID # 90) Based on a preliminary risk assessment, a SWAT team initially secured the premises. (Id., PageID # 89-90, 97) Although the SWAT team entered with guns drawn, LMPD officers who were present that day did not witness any violence or intimidation toward Booker or any other person in the house, and they heard no complaints of any such behavior. (Id., PageID # 88, 90, 146, 155, 163, 169-70)

         A bodycam recording made by Bower during the search shows that Bower led Booker into a bedroom for questioning.[1] He then recited the Miranda warnings and asked Booker, “Do you understand all that?” Booker nodded. (Gov't Hr'g Ex. 2 at 2:20-2:33) Asked whether there was anything he wanted to tell Bower, Booker revealed that he had drugs in his pocket. (Id. at 2:53) When Bower asked whether there were guns in the house, Booker stated that the mother of one of his children, who had recently moved out, might have left a gun there, but that he did not have any guns. (Id. at 3:26) At the end of the interrogation, Bower placed a cigar in Booker's mouth; he later lit the cigar at Booker's request. (Id. at 5:00-6:30) Another officer went to a different bedroom to retrieve shoes and cigarettes for Booker's stepfather. (Id.) A handgun was ultimately found in the house. (D.N. 31, PageID # 98-99)

         Bower testified at the hearing regarding the confidential informant cited in the affidavit, whose alias was Papermate. (Id., PageID # 118) Bower stated that he had worked with Papermate for at least ten years and that Papermate had proved to be credible, providing information that led to “numerous drug seizures and arrests and convictions.” (Id., PageID # 84; see also id., PageID # 136-37 (testifying that Papermate had given him accurate information “[o]n many occasions” between 2006 and 2016)) Bower testified that Papermate had provided the information about Booker in exchange for money; however, on the informant activity/payment form Bower completed in connection with the controlled buy (which was conducted by Papermate), he checked a box indicating that Papermate was “working with officer in anticipation of obtaining favorable court review of pending charges.” (Def.'s Hr'g Ex. 2; see D.N. 31, PageID # 110, 118) Bower was unable to explain this discrepancy.[2] (D.N. 31, PageID # 121-23) He did not believe that Papermate had pending criminal charges at the time the form was completed, though he did believe Papermate “ha[d] been in the criminal justice system since 2006.” (Id., PageID # 115; see id., PageID # 122-23) Sergeant King, who is Detective Bower's supervisor, confirmed that Papermate had a long history of cooperation with LMPD, noting that when he took over the unit in 2010, Papermate was already an established informant. (Id., PageID # 149-50; see id., PageID # 143)

         II.

         Booker challenges the validity of his Miranda waiver and Bower's reliance on a confidential informant. Neither argument is supported by the evidence.

         A. Miranda

         The basis for Booker's first motion is unclear. In his motion, Booker merely asserted that following a search of his home on May 12, 2016, he was taken into custody and interrogated by law enforcement. (D.N. 20, PageID # 47-48) He noted that the United States bears “[a] heavy burden . . . to demonstrate that [a] defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege against self-incrimination and his right to appointed counsel, ” but he did not argue that his waiver was invalid. (Id., PageID # 48 (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 475 (1966)). At the August 2 hearing, Booker's counsel pointed out that Bower did not ask Booker whether he wished to waive his Miranda rights. (D.N. 31, PageID # 179) Defense counsel further urged the Court to consider “how the search warrant was executed” in deciding whether Booker's waiver was valid. (Id., PageID # 180)

         The Miranda waiver inquiry “has two distinct dimensions”:

First, the relinquishment of the right must have been voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception. Second, the waiver must have been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it. Only if the “totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation” reveals both an uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a court properly conclude that the Miranda rights have been waived.

Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421 (1986) (quoting Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707, 725 (1979)). The “heavy burden” imposed by Miranda “is not more than the burden to establish waiver by a preponderance of the evidence.” Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370, 385 ...


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