144 F.3d 412 (6th Cir. 1998), 96-6665, United States v. Strickland

Docket Nº:96-6665.
Citation:144 F.3d 412
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DeWayne A. STRICKLAND, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 20, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 412

144 F.3d 412 (6th Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

DeWayne A. STRICKLAND, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 96-6665.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 20, 1998

Argued March 19, 1998.

Page 413

Paul W. Laymon, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty. (argued and briefed), Office of the U.S. Attorney, Chattanooga, TN, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Leonard M. Caputo (argued and briefed), Phillips & Caputo, Chattanooga, TN, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before: BOGGS, NORRIS, and MOORE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

BOGGS, Circuit Judge.

This case requires us to decide whether the Fourth Amendment's requirement of probable cause for an arrest is satisfied when, in effecting an arrest of a suspected drug dealer, police officers rely solely on the statements of an informant as to the manner in which the planned drug deal would take place and on certain occurrences the officers

Page 414

observe at the time and place of the planned drug deal that appear to corroborate the informant's statements. We hold that the probable cause requirement was satisfied in this situation.

I

Defendant DeWayne Strickland was arrested on January 23, 1996, for selling an ounce of cocaine to Henry Haggard, an indicted drug offender who was working as a police informant. The transaction was arranged by Haggard at the behest of police detectives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With detectives present, on January 23, 1996, Haggard made two taped telephone calls to his brother-in-law in which Haggard asked his brother-in-law to help him obtain cocaine. In response, Haggard's brother-in-law suggested that Haggard contact Strickland, and gave Haggard Strickland's telephone number. Haggard then telephoned Strickland, again in the presence of the detectives; however, for reasons not fully explained in the record, this conversation was not taped. During this telephone call, the detectives heard Haggard confirm a meeting with Strickland to take place at 7:30 p.m. that evening at a Chattanooga convenience store called the Corner Market. After concluding his telephone call with Strickland, Haggard informed the detectives that he had arranged to purchase one ounce of cocaine from Strickland for $1000. 1 Haggard further explained that the course of dealing he and Strickland had followed in the past involved meeting inside an automobile, chatting for a few moments, and then exchanging money for drugs. Detective Greg Bowman then gave Haggard $1000 in marked bills, which Haggard was to give Strickland in exchange for the cocaine.

Detective Bowman enlisted the assistance of several other police officers to stake out the area around the Corner Market. Detective Bowman arranged for Haggard to wear a "wire" to the transaction, with Chattanooga police detectives Dunn and Hill assigned to monitor the audio transmissions. Detectives Batts and Turner were assigned to visual surveillance duty and stationed themselves 75 to 100 yards from the Corner Market. At about 7:30 p.m., Detective Turner saw Haggard drive up to the Corner Market. A few minutes later, a sport-utility vehicle pulled into the parking lot. Three men got out of the vehicle; two of them walked into the Corner Market, while the third--Strickland--walked over to Haggard's car. Strickland climbed into Haggard's car, and Detective Batts (who was viewing the encounter through binoculars) observed the two men talking. After a few minutes, Strickland got out of Haggard's car and began walking back toward his own vehicle. Detectives Turner and Batts had been waiting to receive word that the transaction had been consummated from Detective Dunn, who was monitoring the audio transmissions from Haggard's "wire." Since Strickland was on the verge of leaving the scene, however, Detective Batts gave the signal to move in, and as a result all the detectives on the stakeout converged with guns drawn on the Corner Market parking lot. After the detectives secured Strickland (but before they searched him), Strickland said to the officers--with no apparent prompting--"So what are y'all doing? You can't put me in jail. You ain't seen me with no dope. I ain't got no dope."

Detective Turner approached Haggard, who got out of his car with his hands up and with what appeared to be a bag of cocaine in his hand. After apprehending Strickland's companions, who by this time were standing outside in the parking lot, the officers searched Strickland. In Strickland's pockets, they discovered the $1000 in marked bills given to Haggard by Detective Bowman, as well as $950 in unmarked currency. They also discovered money and drugs in the possession of Strickland's companions.

II

In February 1996, Strickland and two co-defendants were indicted in the United

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States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on two counts of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Strickland moved to suppress, for lack of probable cause, the evidence obtained by the detectives in the course of their search of Strickland and his companions on January 23, 1996. After rejecting the government's argument that the detectives merely stopped and frisked Strickland on reasonable suspicion as permitted under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), a magistrate judge concluded nonetheless that the police had probable cause to arrest and search Strickland. The magistrate judge relied on the two taped telephone calls between Haggard and his brother-in-law in which Haggard's brother-in-law mentioned Strickland as a source of cocaine; one telephone call between Strickland and Haggard, one side of which was heard by Detective Bowman; Haggard's description of the time, location, and manner of the scheduled drug transaction; and Strickland's arrival at the appointed place and time. Strickland filed objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, asserting that these grounds were insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Amendment, but the district court adopted the magistrate judge's report.

Strickland then entered into a plea agreement with the government in which he agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in connection with the trials of his co-defendants. Accordingly, at Strickland's sentencing hearing, the government moved for a downward departure from the guideline sentencing range pursuant to USSG § 5K1.1. The district court denied this motion, observing that Strickland's assistance did not result in the convictions of his codefendants and stating that "the Court is not completely convinced that your assistance to the government was substantial. But the Court is going to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you a sentence at the extreme low end of the guideline range." The district court then sentenced Strickland to a term of 294 months in prison. This timely appeal followed.

III

A

The Fourth Amendment provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause...." U.S. CONST. amend. IV. An "arrest without a warrant does not violate the Fourth Amendment if probable cause exists for the arresting officer's belief that a suspect has violated or is violating the law." Criss v. City of Kent, 867 F.2d 259, 262 (6th Cir.1988). The principal question for us today is whether the detectives had probable cause to arrest and search Strickland. Strickland argues that there was no probable cause because, at the time they arrested and searched him, the...

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