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United States v. Wagoner

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

April 1, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NATHAN EUGENE WAGONER, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Robert E. Wier United States District Judge

         Defendant Wagoner[1] asks the Court to suppress evidence seized during execution of a search warrant at 7887 Barbourville Road, in London, Kentucky. DE 12 (Motion). The Government opposes. DE 15 (Response). On referral, Judge Ingram held an evidentiary hearing, see DE 21 (Minute Entry), and, after thorough treatment, recommended denial. See DE 22 (Recommended Disposition). Wagoner timely objected. DE 23.

         The Court must review de novo any “portions of the report or specified proposed findings” to which any party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Yet, the Court “need not provide de novo review where the objections are frivolous, conclusive or general.” Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). Further, an objecting party retains an affirmative “duty to pinpoint those portions of the [Magistrate Judge's] report that the district court must specially consider.” Id.

         Wagoner's filing includes three principal elements: (A) conclusory contentions regarding the at-issue warrant description's inadequacy, (B) identification of inaccurate premises descriptors, and (C) reassertion of the original suppression request. See DE 23. More important, in determining the Court's review standard, are three notable omissions. Wagoner's objections lack: (1) citations-to the record, recommendation, or authority- (2) reference to any unaddressed description/premises discrepancies, [2] and, critically, (3) substantive grappling with the “additional circumstances”[3] Judge Ingram relied on in finding Fourth Amendment compliance. Objections that, as here, merely “dispute[ ] the correctness of the magistrate's recommendation” without specifying the findings that Defendant “believe[s] were in error[, ] . . . amount to general objections” and do not warrant de novo review. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995). Further, the Court, upon review, finds Wagoner's thin remonstrances meritless.

         Judge Ingram ably analyzed and rejected Wagoner's particularity challenge. A warrant description need only “enable the executing officer to locate and identify the premises with reasonable effort” and rule out “any reasonable probability that another premises might be mistakenly searched.” United States v. Gahagan, 865 F.2d 1490, 1496 (6th Cir. 1989). The inquiry is practical, non-technical, and case specific. See Durk, 149 F.3d at 466 (citing United States v. Dorrough, 927 F.2d 498, 500 (10th Cir. 1991); United States v. Bedford, 519 F.2d 650, 655 (3rd Cir. 1975)). Here, the Wagoner affiant (Det. Dalrymple) described a target property that he himself had just left. Post-issuance, Dalrymple returned to the same location-where other officers, having never departed, waited-and executed the search. The warrant-described directions to the search location are undisputedly accurate. Per the affiant, the “more particular” addendum led directly back to the site of arrest. See DE 22 at 8; DE 15-1 at 3. Under the circumstances, the (mostly cosmetic)[4] discrepancies had no negative impact on law enforcement's ability to “locate and identify the premises” and created no “reasonable probability” of an alternative premises search.

         “The evil that the framers of the Constitution were trying to eradicate with the particularity requirement was the so-called general warrant that allowed officers to search at random. This requirement eliminates generalness and provides both a reason for and limitation of the search.” Durk, 149 F.3d at 466. The Court readily finds those purposes served in this case.

         Accordingly, the Court ORDERS as follows:

         1. The Court OVERRULES Wagoner's objections (DE 23);

         2. The Court ADOPTS Judge Ingram's recommendation (DE 22);

         3. The Court DENIES DE 12; and

         4. Consistent with prior findings (DE 16), the Court SCHEDULES a jury trial in this matter for April 22, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in London, Kentucky. Counsel shall appear by 8:30 a.m. All unexpired DE 8 deadlines reset relative to this trial date.

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Notes:

[1] Defendant faces charges of distributing methamphetamine (Count 1 - September 14, 2017) and possessing 50 grams of meth with distributive intent (Count 2 - October 26, 2017), both in violation of 21 U.S.C. ยง 841(a)(1). DE 1 (Indictment). The charged conduct ...


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