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United States v. Campbell

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

February 22, 2016



Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge.

Before the court is defendant Clifton Campbell's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a residential search conducted on May 7, 2015. ECF No. 16. The court held an evidentiary hearing on January 29, 2016, and gave leave for the parties to file supplemental briefs addressing the testimony of Detective T.E. Lovell, the officer who executed the challenged search warrant. The court also invited counsel to address the applicability of the Fourth Circuit's decision in United States v. McKenzie-Gude. 671 F.3d 452 (4th Cir. 2011). Supplemental briefs were filed on February 5, 2016, and the matter is now ripe for decision. After careful review, the court finds that the search was executed in good faith as required by United States v. Leon. 468 U.S. 897 (1984), and will thus DENY Campbell's motion to suppress.


On May 7, 2015, Detective Lovell and other officers from the Roanoke City Police Department went to 109 Francis Drive NW-a private residence in Roanoke, Virginia-to serve Campbell with an arrest warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation. The residence at 109 Francis Drive N.W. is the home of Christina Greene, who was in a relationship with Campbell at the time of his arrest. In the weeks prior to May 7, Detective Lovell regularly observed Campbell's black Chrysler 300 sedan parked in the driveway at 109 Francis Drive N.W. during various times of the day and night. Based on this information, Detective Lovell concluded that Campbell was also living in die home.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. on May 7, officers approached the residence, announced their presence, and engaged Campbell in a brief exchange through the closed door. After a delay of 10-15 seconds, Campbell opened the door, stepped outside, closed the door behind him, and was arrested. A search incident to arrest found one plastic baggie filled with marijuana, several empty plastic bags, and a set of digital scales in Campbell's pockets.

On the basis of this evidence, Detective Lovell applied for a warrant to search 109 Francis Drive N.W. for evidence of marijuana distribution. Detective Lovell's warrant affidavit, in relevant part, states:

On May 7th, 2015, Roanoke City Police went to the residence of 109 Frances Drive NW, Roanoke Virginia, attempting to serve a warrant on Clifton Deron Campbell. Police knocked on the door and eventually were met by Mr. Campbell who stepped from inside the residence and was immediately placed under arrest. Search incident to arrest revealed a plastic baggie containing a green leafy material, additional plastic baggies, and a set of digital scales, all in the pants pocket of Mr. Campbell. A search warrant is requested for the residence listed above to further the investigation of the crime of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Ex. A, ECF No. 16-1, at 2. Notably, Detective Lovell failed to include any information about his prior surveillance of the residence and his belief that Campbell lived there. Nevertheless, after requesting that Detective Lovell correct a mistaken citation to the Code of Virginia, the magistrate approved the warrant request. Detective Lovell's subsequent search of 109 Francis Drive N.W. found several guns, bullets, marijuana, and other miscellaneous items.[1] Campbell was then charged with possession of a firearm as a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and § 924(e).

Campbell now moves to suppress any evidence recovered from die residence, arguing that die warrant affidavit was "bare bones" and lacked sufficient facts to establish probable cause diat evidence of marijuana distribution would be found in die home. Specifically, Campbell notes tiiat Detective Lovell included no facts in his warrant affidavit tiiat identified 109 Francis Drive N.W. as Campbell's home or otherwise connected die residence widi drug dealing. Campbell also claims tiiat the good faith doctrine is inapplicable, because the deficiencies in the warrant affidavit were so egregious that no reasonable officer could have a good faith belief that the warrant was valid.


First, the court must address Campbell's standing to challenge the search of 109 Francis Drive NW. See United States v. Jackson. 618 F.App'x 472, 474 (11th Cir. 2015), cert, denied. 136 S.Ct. 376 (2015) (suggesting that standing is a "threshold issue" in a motion to suppress). The Fourth Amendment protects "[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. However, Fourth Amendment rights are personal and do not extend to every person present during a search. United States v. Bullard. 645 F.3d 237, 242 (4th Cir. 2011). The mere fact that the government seeks to introduce evidence against a defendant does not, by itself, convey standing to challenge the search that uncovered that evidence. United States v. Gray. 491 F.3d 138, 144 (4th Cir. 2007) ("It is axiomatic that 'suppression of the product of a Fourth Amendment violation can be successfully urged only by those whose rights were violated by the search itself, not by those who are aggrieved solely by the introduction of damaging evidence.'") (quoting Alderman v. United States. 394 U.S. 165, 171-72 (1969)). Instead, a defendant must show he had a "legitimate expectation of privacy" in the place searched to gain standing under the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Castellanos. 716 F.3d 828, 846 (4th Cir. 2013), cert, denied. 134 S.Ct. 832 (2013). "For an expectation of privacy to be legitimate, it must be objectively reasonable; in other words, it must be an expectation 'that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.'" Bullard. 645 F.3d at 242-43 (citing Bond v. United States. 529 U.S. 334, 338 (2000)).

In his original motion, Campbell alleged no facts showing that he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in 109 Francis Drive N.W. other than his presence there on May 7, 2015. However, Campbell claims in his supplemental brief that he was a frequent overnight resident at the home. He notes that he kept his belongings there, had a key to the home, and "was free to come and go as he wished." ECF No. 27, at 5. Campbell also claims he had an "ongoing relationship" with Ms. Green, the current occupant of the home. Id- The government concedes that Campbell was a resident of 109 Francis Drive NW. ECF No. 28, at 3. Based on this evidence, the court is satisfied that Campbell had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the home. See Minnesota v. Olson. 495 U.S. 91, 98 (1990) (finding that an "overnight guest" has a legitimate expectation of privacy in his host's home); Gray. 491 F.3d at 144 (noting that boarders, tenants, "co-occupants, " and others who "regularly reside" in a home have a legitimate expectation of privacy in that location). Campbell thus has standing to challenge the search.


Having concluded that Campbell has standing under the Fourth Amendment, the court turns next to his arguments for suppression. "The Fourth Circuit generally requires police to secure a warrant before conducting a search." United States v. Banks. 482 F.3d 733, 738 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting Maryland v. Dyson. 527 U.S. 465, 466 (1999)). Warrants must be supported by probable cause, which "'exist[s] where the known facts and circumstances are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable prudence in the belief that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found' in the place to be searched." United States v. Richardson. 607 F.3d 357, 369 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ornelas v. United States. 517 U.S. 690, 696 (1996)). Evidence seized pursuant to an invalid warrant is subject to suppression under the exclusionary rule, absent operation of the good faith exception described in United States v. Leon. 468 U.S. 897 (1984). See United States v. Andrews. 577 F.3d 231. 235 (4th Cir. 2009).

Campbell challenges both the validity of the search warrant and the applicability of the good faith exception. At the outset, the court seriously doubts that the search warrant in this case was valid. While a magistrate's decision to approve a warrant application is entitled to great deference, the magistrate still must have a "substantial basis" to find a "a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." Illinois v. Gates. 462 U.S. 213, 238-39 (1983); see also United States v. Blackwood. 913 F.2d 139, 142 (4th Cir. 1990). In this case, the warrant application included few-if any-facts connecting 109 Francis Drive N.W. with marijuana distribution. Cf. United States v. Lalor. 996 F.2d 1578, 1583 (4th Cir. 1993) ("Where no evidence connects the drug activity to the residence, the . . . warrant [is] defective."). However, because it was objectively reasonable for Detective Lovell to rely on the search warrant, this court need ...

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