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United States v. Aley

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

April 6, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
GLEN ALLAN ALEY DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on a motion to suppress by defendant Glen Allen Aley. (DN 23.) Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision.

         I. Background

         According to Aley's motion, the government executed search warrants for his 1997 Dodge truck and his home. Both search warrants used the exact same language in describing what items could be seized, including

2) Address and/or telephone logs reflecting customer names, addresses, and/or telephone No. relating to the acquisition and disposition of illegal firearms and/or parts . . .
6) Firearms and/or parts that are possessed with the intent to manufacture and/or convert them to fully automatic machine-guns - including, but not limited to, AR-15 type rifles and Glock semiautomatic pistols . . .

(Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [DN 23] at 1.)[1] In executing these warrants, the government seized more than eighteen firearms, ammunition, several plastic gun cases, and a cell phone. As a result, Aley has now been charged with one count of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and nineteen counts of possession of an unregistered firearm. (Second Superseding Indictment [DN 30].) He has moved to suppress all of the evidence seized under the two warrants.

         II. Discussion

         A. Whether The Warrants Were Overbroad

         Aley first argues that the warrants were unconstitutionally overbroad. While he asks for an evidentiary hearing, the Court finds that no testimony is necessary to resolve this issue, as only the warrant itself and the language used within are relevant to deciding whether the warrant was overbroad. See United States v. Lawhorn, 467 Fed.Appx. 493, 495 (6th Cir. 2012) (“A defendant is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing where his arguments are entirely legal in nature”) (quotations omitted).

         A search warrant is “unconstitutionally overbroad” if it violates the Fourth Amendment's particularity requirement. U.S. Const. amend. IV (“no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”) (emphasis added). “While a general order to explore and rummage is not permitted, the degree of specificity required is flexible and will vary depending on the crime involved and the types of items sought.” United States v. Greene, 250 F.3d 471, 477 (6th Cir. 2001) (quotations omitted). “[A] description is valid if it is as specific as the circumstances and the nature of the activity under investigation permit.” Id. (quotations omitted).

         The Court finds that the language used in the warrant to describe the items to be seized was sufficiently particular. Almost all of the items listed in the warrant specifically pertain to Aley's alleged possession or sale of illegal firearms. For example, the only firearms that were permitted to be seized were those that were “possessed with the intent to manufacture and/or convert them to fully automatic machine-guns.” (Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [DN 23] at 1.) Further, the government could only seize telephone logs that contained information “relating to the acquisition and disposition of illegal firearms and/or parts.” (Id.) Thus, the warrant only authorized the seizure of those items that specifically pertained to Aley's alleged criminal behavior. Aley's argument focuses less on the breadth of the language in the warrant and more on the actual search that took place, which he argues included seizing items outside the scope of the warrant. But these two arguments must not be confused.[2] The particularity requirement focuses on whether the scope of the warrant is so great that it authorizes the government to seize more than that which is constitutionally permissible, and the Court sees no such issue with the warrants in this case.

         B. Whether The Government Conducted A General Search

         Next, Aley argues that the government conducted an unconstitutional general search that requires suppression of all the evidence seized. Again, while Aley asks for an evidentiary hearing, the Court does not find that testimony is necessary to resolve this issue, as the relevant facts are not in ...


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