149 F.3d 1185 (6th Cir. 1998), 97-3142, U.S. v. Robinson

Docket Nº:97-3142.
Citation:149 F.3d 1185
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Patrick H. ROBINSON, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:May 22, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 1185

149 F.3d 1185 (6th Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Patrick H. ROBINSON, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 97-3142.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 22, 1998

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA6 Rule 28 and FI CTA6 IOP 206 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.



During a roadside encounter with police officers, Defendant-Appellee Patrick Robinson was patted down by the officers and discovered to have a revolver and ammunition. Because of previous state convictions, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal by the United States followed. Because the officers lacked the requisite reasonable suspicion for patting down Defendant, we AFFIRM the grant of the suppression motion.

I. Background

Defendant and his companion, Mark Guardado, both of whom were wearing Hell's Angels jackets and insignia, were traveling by motorcycle through Brecksville, Ohio, on the morning of June 13, 1996. At approximately 7:00 a.m., Defendant's motorcycle began to sputter, and both men pulled their bikes over to the side of the road. Two police officers who had observed the sputtering pulled up beside Robinson and Guardado and were quickly joined by a third officer. Upon the request of the officers, both men produced valid out-of-state licenses and registrations, and no outstanding warrants were discovered. Defendant was asked where he and Guardado were heading, and he said they were on their way from Chicago, Illinois, to Rochester, New York.

During the encounter, Officer Craig Mares spotted part of a knife sheath protruding from under Guardado's jacket. Mares asked Guardado to lift up his jacket and then asked him to put the knife, which had a five-inch blade, on the ground. Guardado complied and was informed by Officer Mares that he would be patted down. Before beginning the patdown, Mares asked Guardado if he had any additional weapons, and when Guardado indicated that he had a gun, he was handcuffed and searched. A loaded nine millimeter pistol was recovered.

Officer Mares called out to Officer William Reppa, who was standing next to Defendant Robinson, and told Reppa that he had found a pistol on Guardado and that Reppa should pat down Defendant. Reppa told Defendant to put his hands behind his back and asked him if he had any weapons. Defendant indicated that he did and ultimately produced two folding knives with five-inch blades. Reppa then patted Defendant down, with Officer Mares assisting. During the patdown, Officer Reppa felt a plastic bag in Defendant's pocket, reached in, and discovered that the bag contained three marijuana cigarettes and a small amount of white powder that turned out to be methamphetamine. Defendant was handcuffed and advised that he was under arrest. Officers Mares and Reppa then resumed their search of Defendant and found a .38 caliber revolver and ammunition in a fanny pack inside Defendant's pants.

Because of previous state convictions in Wisconsin, Defendant was indicted on one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). 1 No drug charges were filed. After being arraigned in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Defendant moved to suppress the admission of the revolver and ammunition into evidence. At the conclusion of a hearing in which Officers Mares and Reppa testified, the district court granted the motion to suppress, a decision the United States now appeals. The district court issued no written explanation of its decision and gave little verbal explanation when concluding that "the necessary Terry elements were not here in this case and, therefore, the court has to grant the motion to suppress." See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). However, this court is "not confined to a consideration of the grounds relied on by the district court." United States v. Soule, 908 F.2d 1032, 1036 n. 7 (1st Cir.1990) (upholding rejection of motion to suppress).

II. Analysis

We consider this appeal under a mixed standard of review. "[A]s a general matter determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause should be reviewed de novo on appeal. [However,] a reviewing court should take care both to review findings of ... fact only for clear error and to give due weight to inferences drawn from those facts by ... judges and local law enforcement officers." Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996); see also United States v. Kennedy, 61 F.3d 494, 497 (6th Cir.1995) ("[T]he district court's conclusions of law [concerning a motion to suppress] are subject to de novo review on appeal. The reviewing court is to review the evidence in the light most likely to support the district court's decision.") (quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1119, 116 S.Ct. 1351, 134 L.Ed.2d 520 (1996).

As the district court correctly noted, this case requires us to apply the standard set forth in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), in order to...

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