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United States v. Hall

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

April 15, 2019




          Karen L. Hayes United States Magistrate

         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion to suppress filed by Defendant Derrick Hall. [doc. # 29]. For reasons explained below, it is recommended that the motion be DENIED.

         Background [1]

         The testimony and evidence gleaned at the hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress are as follows.

         On July 20, 2018, Hall parked a Buick LeSabre at a Texaco station on Desiard Street in Monroe, LA. He left the engine running and music playing while he went inside the station store. A few minutes later, two Monroe Police Department Officers, Tim Antley and Jesse Huckaby, arrived at the station in separate vehicles.

         When Officer Huckaby exited his patrol car, he heard loud music coming from the Buick and did not see anyone inside the car. He stood a few feet away and waited for the driver to return. Hall soon left the station store, walked to the Buick, and sat in the driver's seat. Officer Huckaby followed Hall to the vehicle. As he did so, he smelled marijuana, and the odor became stronger as he walked closer to the vehicle. Officer Huckaby stepped inside the open driver's door, asked Hall for his driver's license, and explained he was stopping Hall for the loud music and unattended vehicle. Officer Huckaby then observed a clear plastic bag in the inside pocket of the driver's door that contained what he suspected to be marijuana. He removed the marijuana from the vehicle and continued to detain Hall. Officer Huckaby advised Hall of his Miranda rights and began preparing a ticket for possession of marijuana.

         While preparing the ticket, Officer Rakeida Brothers arrived at the scene, and Officer Huckaby requested that she search the vehicle. Hall denied consent to search, but Officers Huckaby and Antley advised him they did not need his consent because they already found marijuana inside the vehicle. During a search of the vehicle, Officer Brothers uncovered a gun underneath some t-shirts on the floorboard behind the driver's seat. Officer Brothers radioed dispatch and confirmed that the gun had been reported stolen. Hall was then formally arrested.

         On March 22, 2019, Hall filed the instant motion to suppress evidence arising from the traffic stop. He claims the officers (1) had no reasonable suspicion to justify the initial stop or continue the detention; and (2) had no probable cause to search his vehicle. [doc. # 29-1].

         On April 5, 2019, the Government filed its response claiming (1) there was reasonable suspicion that Hall had violated noise and vehicle laws to justify the initial stop; (2) additional reasonable suspicion of drug activity developed during the stop to justify the continued detention; and (3) probable cause justified the automobile search because Officer Huckaby smelled and saw marijuana in the vehicle. [doc. # 31].

         A suppression hearing took place on April 11, 2019, with testimony from Officers Huckaby and Brothers. The Government also introduced into evidence Officer Huckaby's and Officer Brothers' body camera footage of the stop and search. [See doc. # 35].

         Standard of Review

         The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. The protections of the Fourth Amendment extend to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 207 (1979).

         “The proponent of a motion to suppress has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the evidence in question was obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.” United States v. Iraheta, 764 F.3d 455, 460 (5th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). Generally, “evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in a criminal proceeding against the victim of the illegal search or seizure. This prohibition applies as well to the fruits of the illegally seized evidence.” United States v. Wallace, 885 F.3d 806, 810 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 347 (1974)). The purpose of this exclusionary rule is to deter unlawful police conduct: by refusing to admit evidence gained as a result of conduct that deprives the defendant of some right, “the courts hope to instill in those particular investigating officers, or in their future counterparts, a greater degree of care toward the rights of the accused.” United States v. Pope, 467 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v. ...

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