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United States v. Maley

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 5, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Matthew Duke Maley, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Frank R. Zapata, Senior United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is a Motion to Suppress (Doc. 30) filed by Defendant Matthew Duke Maley. Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman held an evidentiary hearing on February 1, 2017 and February 13, 2017. On March 3, 2017, Judge Bowman issued a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 78), which recommends denying the Motion to Suppress.

         I. Background

         In 2013, Defendant and others were the subjects of an investigation into the distribution of methamphetamine in New Mexico. In August 2013, an undercover FBI special agent named Bryan Acee (“SA Acee”) went to the Sunny Acres RV Park in Las Cruces, NM, with a woman named Jennifer Sanders, in order to purchase methamphetamine from Sanders's source, who she described as a white man named Matt. At the RV park, Sanders went inside a white travel trailer and returned with 10 ounces of methamphetamine, which she sold to SA Acee. During the incident, SA Acee observed Defendant looking out the window of the trailer. SA Acee later determined that the trailer space was rented by Defendant and his girlfriend, and that Defendant had purchased the travel trailer in July 2013 for $7, 000.00 cash.

         Defendant was indicted on November 13, 2013 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico for distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, and aiding and abetting.[1] An arrest warrant was issued on the same day. By that time, however, Defendant had relocated from New Mexico; an investigation led agents to believe he was living at 1920 W. Gardner Lane in Tucson, Arizona.

         FBI Special Agent Jordan Kuretich (“SA Kuretich”) conducted surveillance of the 1920 W. Gardner Lane property on November 8, 2013 and November 9, 2013. He observed and photographed the white travel trailer that SA Acee had previously seen at the Sunny Acres RV Park. The trailer was up on a block and had its awning and pull-out extended.

         On November 17, 2013 at approximately 9 a.m., FBI agents went to 1920 W. Gardner Lane in order to arrest Defendant pursuant to the arrest warrant issued by the district court in New Mexico, and to seize Defendant's travel trailer and vehicles for forfeiture. The white travel trailer was on the property in the same position as SA Kuretich had observed over a week earlier. The trailer was still up on a block, with the awning, pull-out, and stairs extended. It was hooked up to utilities via an extension cord, a garden hose, and a flexible pipe attached to a sewage outlet. The trailer's door was locked. After knocking and announcing their presence, agents breached the door and entered the trailer. Defendant was not inside, but while looking for him, agents observed methamphetamine, firearms, and drug paraphernalia in the trailer. Agents then seized the trailer for administrative forfeiture. They unhooked the trailer's utilities, closed the pull-outs, and towed the trailer to the FBI office in Tucson. Afterward, on November 19, they obtained a search warrant to conduct a search of the trailer. The search pursuant to the warrant occurred at the FBI office.

         In her Report and Recommendation, Judge Bowman found that it was reasonable for the agents to assume that Defendant resided in the travel trailer but that the agents did not have sufficient information to support a reasonable belief that Defendant was present inside the trailer the morning of November 17, 2013. (Doc. 78 at 9-10.) Accordingly, Judge Bowman held that the agents violated the Fourth Amendment by entering the trailer in order to arrest Defendant pursuant to the arrest warrant, and that evidence seen in plain view after the entry would be inadmissible if this were the end of the analysis. (Id. at 10.) However, Judge Bowman recommended denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress on the basis of the inevitable discovery doctrine, because the agents were entitled to conduct an inventory search after seizing the trailer for administrative forfeiture, and an inventory search would have led to the discovery of the evidence that Defendant moves to exclude. (Id. at 10-11.)

         II. Standard of Review

         A district judge must “make a de novo determination of those portions” of a magistrate judge's “report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The advisory committee's notes to Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that, “[w]hen no timely objection is filed, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation” of a magistrate judge. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) advisory committee's note to 1983 addition. See also Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999) (“If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error.”); Prior v. Ryan, CV 10-225-TUC-RCC, 2012 WL 1344286, at *1 (D. Ariz. Apr. 18, 2012) (reviewing for clear error unobjected-to portions of Report and Recommendation).

         III. Discussion

         No party objected to the portion of Judge Bowman's Report and Recommendation holding that the agents unlawfully entered the travel trailer. The Court has reviewed that portion of the Report and Recommendation for clear error, and has found none. Accordingly, that portion of the Report and Recommendation will be accepted and adopted.

         Defendant objects to the portion of Judge Bowman's Report and Recommendation holding that the evidence found inside the trailer is admissible under the inevitable discovery doctrine. The Court accordingly makes a de novo determination of that portion of the Report and Recommendation.

         The inevitable discovery doctrine is an exception to the exclusionary rule. United States v. Reilly, 224 F.3d 986, 994 (9th Cir. 2000). The doctrine permits the admission of evidence which otherwise would be excluded if the government can show “that the evidence would have been obtained inevitably and, therefore, would have been admitted regardless of any overreaching by the police.'” Id. (quoting Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, ...


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