United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
OPINION & ORDER
Coke Morgan, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
matters come before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Suppress, Doc. 24, and Defendant's Motion to Disclose
Confidential Witness, Doc. 25. The Court addressed these
matters at a hearing held on April 11, 2019. The Court ruled
from the bench and DENIED all the motions.
The Court hereby issues this Opinion and Order to further
explain its rulings.
moves to suppress:
1. All physical and tangible evidence, and all testimony
related thereto, obtained from the March 1, 2017 arrest and
search and seizure of evidence from 21422 Stonehouse Road,
Onley, Virginia (the "March 2017
2. All physical and tangible evidence, and all testimony
related thereto, obtained from the June 28, 2017 warrantless
stop of the silver Toyota, arrest and search and seizure of
evidence from Jeremy Miles (the "June Traffic
3. All physical and tangible evidence, and all testimony
related thereto, obtained from the July 19, 2017 arrest and
search and seizure of evidence from 22453 Bayside Road in
Onancock, Virginia (the "July 2017 Arrest").
Doc. 24 at 1. Defendant also moves this Court to hold a
hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154
(1978) on his motion to suppress the evidence related to the
March 2017 arrest. Doc. 24 at 2.
is charged in an eight-count indictment with: Conspiracy to
Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled
Substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §846 ("Count
One"); 2); Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled
Substances in violation of 21 U.S.C § 841 ("Counts
Three, Four, and Five"); Possessing a Firearm in
Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime pursuant to 18 USC
§ 924(c)(1)(A) (Count Six"), and Possession of a
Firearm by a Convicted Felon pursuant to 21 U.SC. § 922
("Counts Two,  Seven, and Eight"). Doc. 1
("Indictment"). The evidence that Defendant seeks
to suppress supports the factual bases for Counts One through
Eight of the Indictment.
April 11, 2019, this Court held a hearing on the motions. At
that hearing, the Court heard arguments of counsel and
testimony by Special Agent Wade of the Virginia State Police.
Both parties examined Agent Wade on the June traffic stop and
the July 2017 arrest.
reasons described herein and articulated from the bench, the
1. DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress
evidence related to the March 2017 Arrest AS
2. DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress
evidence related to the June Traffic Stop;
3. DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress
evidence related to the July 2017 Arrest;
4. DENIES Defendant's Motion for a
Franks hearing; AND
5. DENIES Defendant's Motion to Compel
the Government to Disclose the Identity of its Confidential
MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS
Fourth Amendment 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 Supreme Court of the United States recognizes
an exception to this requirement for the search of vehicles.
Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 153 (1925)
(no warrant required "where it is not practicable to
secure a warrant because the vehicle can be quickly
moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the
warrant must be sought.") (emphasis in original). An
automobile stop is thus subject to the constitutional
imperative that it not be unreasonable under the
circumstances. As a general matter, the decision to stop an
automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause
to believe that a traffic violation has occurred. Whren
v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 810 (1996) (citations
omitted). So long as probable cause exists, police may search
a car and containers found within it. California v.
Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 580 (1991) ("The police may
search an automobile and the containers within it where they
have probable cause to believe contraband or evidence is
cause exists when "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." Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690,
696 (1996). Additionally, probable cause "deals with
probabilities. These are not technical; they are the factual
and practical considerations of everyday life on which
reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act."
Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 241 (1983)
(citation omitted). To determine whether a magistrate or an
officer performing an automobile search has probable cause
courts look to the totality of the circumstances and evaluate
"whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the
affidavit before [the officer], 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." Id. at 238. This
same standard applies when reviewing whether an officer had
probable cause to search a vehicle.
warrant for a search has been obtained, courts still review
the sufficiency of the warrants "to ensure that such an
abdication of the magistrate's duty does not occur."
Gates, 462 U.S. at 238.
June 2017 Arrest
the Government's response, police had been investigating
the drug dealing activities of the Defendant's brother
and Defendant himself. Doc. 27 at 2; Doc. 24-1
("Def.'s Ex. 1 at 1"). Cooperating witnesses
previously informed the police that the Defendant and his
brother frequently sold drugs on the Eastern Shore and
possessed weapons that they used in connection to those
selling activities. Id. One unnamed witness informed
police that Defendant brandished a firearm, shot at, and
missed the witness's head in an argument. Def.'s Ex.
1 at 1.
June 2017 arrest is more closely related to a June 2017
traffic stop preceding the instant stop, wherein police
stopped a person who later became their confidential
information ("CI"). On June 26, 2017, law
enforcement conducted a traffic stop of a 2004 Toyota
four-door sedan. Doc. 24-4 ("Def. Ex. 4") at 1. The
basis for the stop was that the car appeared to have tinted
windows darker than the minimum thirty-five percent (35%)
tint allowed under Virginia law. Id. The officer
tested the rear driver door window, which measured twelve
percent (12%) tint. Id. After detecting an odor of
marijuana emanating from the vehicle, officers searched the
vehicle and found greenish flakes of plant matter, suspected
crack cocaine and small tablets in the vehicle. Id.
at 2. The driver was arrested and chose to waive the
driver's rights and speak with law enforcement.
Id. According to the Government's response, they
were familiar with CI, as the CI had a prior history with
drug distribution. Doc. 27 at 8.
interview, the CI advised law enforcement of the following:
(1) that the CI "had just got the five Percocet pills
and crack cocaine . . . from a black male that [the CI] only
knew as J-Rock;" (2) that "J-Rock was staying at
the trailer with Ron-Ron and Keva and that they were selling
cocaine and pills from the residence [and] making runs to
make drug sales;" (3) that "J-Rock has a black
handgun and was looking to buy another one;" (4) and
that the CI "cleaned the residence and owed J-Rock
$130.00 for the drugs and that he credited to the CI $25.00
for [the CI's] cleaning services." Def. Ex. 4. The
CI also stated that "J-Rock had had approximately two
ounces of cocaine, a large bag of pills and a black
handgun" when the CI left the ...