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United States v. Young

February 18, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VINCENT YOUNG, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Whaley United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Ct. Rec. 23). A hearing on the motion was held on January 25, 2010, and February 12, 2010, in Riverside, California. Defendant was present and represented by Charles Brown. The Government was represented by Daniel Ackerman.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Officers from the San Bernardino Police Department Narcotics Unit received information from anonymous and unnamed sources that a person named Vince Young sold cocaine base and drove a red mini pick-up truck. Officers learned that a Vince Young lived at 650 N. Mountain View # 6, in San Bernardino, California.

On January 6, 2009, a briefing was held with members of the Unit for a planned surveillance at Mr. Young's residence. It was decided that in the event Mr. Young was seen, Officers S. Aranda and A. Castro, who were standing by in full uniform and in a marked patrol union, would follow Mr. Young. In the event a traffic violation occurred, they would initiate a traffic stop.

Everything commenced according to plan. Officer Beall observed a red Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck approaching the 600 block of N. Mountain View. He got a look at the driver and determined that the driver was Defendant Vincent Young. A few minutes later, Beall observed Defendant pull out of the driveway in the red truck. He observed a female passenger. Defendant drove away heading northbound on Mountain View. The officers followed in unmarked vehicles. Shortly thereafter, Defendant made a U-turn in the middle of the intersection and returned to 650 N. Mountain View. He exited the truck, while the female remained inside. He then walked toward the apartment. A few moments later, Defendant returned, got in the truck and backed out of the driveway. Officers followed the truck as it traveled southbound on Mountain View.

Beall then requested Officers Aranda and Castro to follow behind the truck. According to these officers, Defendant was heading eastbound with the left turn signal on, and crossed through the intersection of Fifth Street and Sierra. He did not make a left turn on Sierra. Then, with his left turn signal still on, he turned into the number two lane of Fifth Street directly in front of another eastbound traveling vehicle. The officers concluded that Defendant committed a traffic violation (unsafe turning movement) and pulled him over.*fn1

Officer Castro contacted Defendant. He noticed an open Bud Light beer can lying in the bed of the truck. Castro asked Defendant if he had been drinking or if he was on probation or parole. Defendant indicated that he was discharged from parole and that he had not been drinking. Defendant provided Castro with his driver's license, his vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Castro asked Defendant if he could search him for illegal items and Defendant consented to the search, and stepped out of the vehicle. Castro searched Defendant and no illegal items were located.

Meanwhile, Officer Aranda contacted the passenger, Charmain Hunt. According to Aranda, she appeared very nervous and avoided making eye contact. She was asked if she was on parole or probation, and she responded that she had been off probation since 2007. Aranda asked her to step out of the vehicle and she complied. She also gave permission for Aranda to search her. Aranda then conducted a limited search of Hunt's person and while doing so Hunt tried to keep her hands near her stomach and near her waistline. It appeared to Aranda that she was trying to conceal something, so he requested a female officer to assist with a more thorough search. A short time later, Officer Yanez arrived to assist with the search. Officer Yanez searched Hunt, and she found a clear plastic bag containing 11 individually packaged plastic baggies containing an off-white rocklike substance on Ms. Hunt's person. The officers suspected the substance was cocaine base.

Once the cocaine base was found, the officers arrested Defendant and Ms. Hunt and contacted Officer Beall. He then went to the scene. When he arrived, Defendant was handcuffed and sitting on the curb. Beall asked Defendant if there was a key for the apartment on the key ring in the ignition of his truck and he stated there was. Beall took the key from the key ring and provided it to Officer Mark Aranda, who proceeded to the Mountain View residence. Defendant was also transported to the residence. Ms. Hunt was transported to the CDC by Officer Flowers after which he returned to the Mountain View residence.

At some point, Defendant's residence was searched. During the search, officers located digital scales, handgun magazines with ammunition, approximately $1900, approximately 269 grams of suspected cocaine base, and approximately 22 grams of methamphetamine. Defendant was Mirandized and admitted that some of the money located in his apartment were proceeds from drug sales.

Based on the evidence found during the search, Agent Kaighin applied for and received a federal arrest warrant on March 26, 2009. Defendant was arrested on March 31, 2009. Officers searched his truck and found a black plastic bag containing numerous pieces of cocaine base--roughly 40 grams.

Defendant now moves to suppress any and all evidence obtained by the Government after his initial arrest.

ANALYSIS

The Fourth Amendment provides that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation . . ." U.S. Const. amend. IV. In Illinois v. Gates, the Supreme Court held that whether an affidavit is sufficient to establish probable cause is subject to a "totality-of-the-circumstances analysis" where the issuing magistrate is to "make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the 'veracity' and 'basis of knowledge' of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983). "An affidavit must provide the magistrate with a substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause." Id. at 239. "A magistrate's determination of probable cause should be paid great deference by reviewing courts." Id. at 236 (quotation and citation omitted). The Court must uphold a probable cause determination "so long as the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding probable cause existed based on the totality of the circumstances." Id. "The facts presented [to a magistrate] 'must be sufficient to justify a conclusion that the property which is the object of the search is probably on the premises to be searched at the time the warrant is issued.'" Id. In determining whether an affidavit established probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant, the court limits its review to the data contained within the four corners of the affidavit. United States v. Gourde, 440 F.3d 1065, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).

Here, the Affidavit in Support of the Search Warrant set forth the following facts:

1. We-Tip information regarding Vince Young, who was reportedly selling narcotics at the Mountain View location;

2. Contact by multiple confidential reliable informants over the past few months about a subject named Vince Young who drives a red pick up truck and sells cocaine;

3. A red pick up truck was observed arriving at the Mountain View location. The driver was recognized as Vince Young based on a DOL picture;

4. Five minutes later the truck left with a female passenger; 5. The truck then made a U-turn back to the residence, Young walked out of sight and approximately five minutes later returned to vehicle and drove in opposite direction;

6. A traffic stop was initiated;

7. Four ounces of cocaine base was located on ...


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