110 F.3d 190 (1st Cir. 1997), 96-1360, United States v. Meade

Docket Nº:96-1360.
Citation:110 F.3d 190
Party Name:UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Patrick J. MEADE, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:April 08, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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110 F.3d 190 (1st Cir. 1997)



Patrick J. MEADE, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 96-1360.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 8, 1997

Heard Feb. 4, 1997.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Paul F. Markham by Appointment of the Court, Melrose, MA, for appellant.

Kimberly S. Budd, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Donald K. Stern, United States Attorney, was on brief for appellee.

Before SELYA, Circuit Judge, CYR, Senior Circuit Judge, and STAHL, Circuit Judge.

STAHL, Circuit Judge.

In December 1993, federal agents arrested defendant-appellant Patrick J. Meade in Massachusetts for his suspected involvement in the attempted robbery of an armored vehicle. A federal grand jury in Rhode Island returned an indictment charging him with various offenses related to the attempted robbery. Before trial, the federal district court in Rhode Island dismissed the count that charged Meade with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). After a jury trial, Meade was acquitted of all remaining counts. Subsequently, the government prosecuted the felon-in-possession count in Massachusetts federal district court, and in December 1995, a federal jury in that state found Meade guilty of that offense. The court then imposed a seventy-month imprisonment term, taking into account Meade's conduct in the attempted robbery.

On appeal, Meade raises four distinct claims: (1) federal agents lacked probable cause to arrest him; (2) the instant prosecution violated the Speedy Trial Act because of his earlier arrest, indictment on the same charge, and subsequent dismissal of the charge; (3) the district court erred in failing to instruct the jury on his theory of the case; and (4) the district court erred when it enhanced his sentence based on conduct underlying charges of which he had been acquitted. Finding none of these arguments persuasive, we affirm. We provide the pertinent background facts as necessary to the discussion of each contention.

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Probable Cause

After a three-day evidentiary hearing, the district court found that, at the time of Meade's arrest, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") had information from which they could reasonably believe that he and two others were about to rob an armored courier van. Based on this finding, the court determined that Meade's warrantless arrest did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights and denied his pre-trial motion to suppress a firearm seized during a search incident to his arrest. On appeal, Meade renews his contention that agents lacked probable cause to arrest him.

  1. Standard of Review

    We review the district court's legal conclusions on a motion to suppress de novo and examine its factual findings for clear error. United States v. Young, 105 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir.1997). "[T]he decision whether these historical facts, viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer, amount to reasonable suspicion or to probable cause" presents a mixed question of law and fact which is subject to plenary review. Ornelas v. United States, --- U.S. ----, ---- - ----, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1661-62, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996).

  2. Probable Cause

    A warrantless arrest requires probable cause, the existence of which must be determined in light of the information that law enforcement officials possessed at the time of the arrest. See United States v. Diallo, 29 F.3d 23, 25 (1st Cir.1994). "Probable cause exists when police officers, relying on reasonably trustworthy facts and circumstances, have information upon which a reasonably prudent person would believe the suspect had committed or was committing a crime." Young, 105 F.3d at 6. To establish probable cause, the government "need not present the quantum of proof necessary to convict." United States v. Uricoechea-Casallas, 946 F.2d 162, 165 (1st Cir.1991).

  3. Discussion

    The operation culminating in Meade's arrest involved numerous FBI agents. Several of these agents testified to their own observations of the events leading up to the arrest as well as to other agents' observations communicated to them via FBI radio. Based on the testimony and evidence presented, Meade contends that the FBI agent who ordered his arrest, Agent John Newton, lacked information sufficient to believe that Meade was committing a crime. The government disputes this claim and, invoking the proposition that "probable cause is determined in light of the collective knowledge of the law enforcement officers involved in an investigation," further relies upon certain facts known to other agents, but not to Agent Newton. Because of the relative complexity of the law-enforcement operation preceding Meade's arrest, we begin with a brief discussion of principles that pertain when the government seeks to establish probable cause on the basis of knowledge possessed by more than one participant.

    1. Fellow-Officer/Collective-Knowledge Rule

    Under the "fellow-officer" rule, law enforcement officials cooperating in an investigation are entitled to rely upon each other's knowledge of facts when forming the conclusion that a suspect has committed or is committing a crime. See United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 111, 85 S.Ct. 741, 747, 13 L.Ed.2d 684 (1965) ("Observations of fellow officers of the Government engaged in a common investigation are plainly a reliable basis for a warrant applied for by one of their number."); see generally 2 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure § 3.5(a), at 250-52 (1996). 1 Thus, when a law enforcement officer with information amounting to probable cause directs an officer who lacks the knowledge to make the arrest, we "impute" to the arresting officer the directing officer's knowledge.

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    See Burns v. Loranger, 907 F.2d 233, 236 n. 7 (1st Cir.1990); Karr v. Smith, 774 F.2d 1029, 1032 (10th Cir.1985); Mendoza v. City of Rome, 872 F.Supp. 1110, 1116 (N.D.N.Y.1994); LaFave, supra § 3.5(b), at 255-58; e.g., United States v. Paradis, 802 F.2d 553, 556-57 (1st Cir.1986) (upholding arrest ordered by superior although the arresting officer may have lacked probable cause). 2

    The fellow officer rule underlies the well-worn maxim that "the collective knowledge and information of all the officers involved establishes probable cause for the arrest." United States v. Paradis, 802 F.2d 553, 557 (1st Cir.1986); see United States v. Hinojos, 107 F.3d 765, 767-69 (10th Cir.1997); Karr, 774 F.2d at 1031; United States v. One 1975 Pontiac Lemans, 621 F.2d 444, 449 (1st Cir.1980). The "collective knowledge" or "pooled knowledge" principle has been used to validate arrests in two ways: (1) by tracing the arresting officer's action back to an individual in a law enforcement agency who possessed information sufficient to establish probable cause, and (2) by finding that the directing agency as a whole possessed the necessary facts. See LaFave, supra, § 3.5(b), at 259-60 (noting cases).

    A sensible argument has been made that looking to the agency's knowledge as a whole is unwise because it may "encourage the dissemination of arrest orders based upon nothing more than the hope that the unevaluated bits and pieces in the hands of several different officers may turn out to add up to probable cause." LaFave, supra § 3.5(b), at 260. In the same vein, the collective-knowledge corollary of the fellow officer rule would seem to require, or at least presuppose, the flow of information from the officers with knowledge of facts tending to establish probable cause to those lacking that knowledge (or, at least, to the directing or arresting officer). See LaFave, supra § 3.5(b), at 260-61 n.53, § 3.5(c), at 266 n.72 (citing cases). 3

    We have not directly addressed the question whether the collective-knowledge rule is limited to situations in which the knowledge vests in a pertinent individual--such as the directing or arresting officer--or whether the rule broadly encompasses situations in which the officers or agency as a whole possess the requisite information. In this case, the government attempts to invoke the broader application. Here, however, we need consider neither the possible permutations of these principles nor choose between them 4 because we find that both the directing officer and the arresting officer individually possessed the requisite knowledge, albeit from different facts, to establish probable cause.

    2. Suppression Hearing Evidence

    In light of this discussion, we review in some detail the suppression hearing evidence and the court's factual findings regarding the various FBI agents' observations and communications throughout the operation that

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    resulted in Meade's arrest. We pay particular attention to the observations and knowledge of Agent Newton, the directing officer, and Agent Jay Fallon, the arresting officer, and, in doing so, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the court's ruling. See United States v. Maguire, 918 F.2d 254, 257 (1st Cir.1990).

    Several days before December 23, 1993, an informant advised FBI special agent Frank Brosnan, the case agent in charge of this matter, that two men, Lawrence "Mitch" Lanoue and Albert Cole, assisted by at least one additional unidentified person, would attempt to rob an armored courier vehicle. The informant reported that the robbery would occur in a mall or congested area and that the suspects would use a particular vehicle in the operation: namely, a stolen gray 1985 Oldsmobile (the "gray Olds" or "Olds"). In fact, the gray Olds had already been located and law enforcement personnel had surreptitiously planted an electronic tracking device in it.

    In the early morning hours of December 23, 1993, at the state police barracks in Rhode Island, case agent...

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