156 F.3d 813 (8th Cir. 1998), 98-1463, United States v. Brown

Docket Nº:98-1463.
Citation:156 F.3d 813
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Steven W. BROWN, Appellant.
Case Date:September 09, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 813

156 F.3d 813 (8th Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Steven W. BROWN, Appellant.

No. 98-1463.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 9, 1998

Submitted June 9, 1998.

Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied Oct. 9, 1998.

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Michael Baker, Springfield, MO, argued, for Appellant.

David P. Rush, Asst. U.S. Atty., Springfield, MO, argued, for Appellee.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD and MORRIS SHEPPARD ARNOLD, Circuit Judges, and PANNER 1, District Judge.

PANNER, District Judge.

A jury in the Western District of Missouri convicted appellant Steven W. Brown of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and possession, with intent to distribute, a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Brown was sentenced to serve 360 months in prison. We affirm the convictions as well as the district court's denial of Brown's pre-trial motion to suppress evidence and statements, but remand for resentencing.

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BACKGROUND

The police received an anonymous tip that Brown would be arriving from St. Louis at a certain time with five ounces of "crack" cocaine. The caller described the vehicle that Brown would be driving, including its license number, and also identified the woman who would be accompanying Brown. The police previously had received similar tips concerning Brown. At the appointed hour, they waited along the highway in an unmarked vehicle until they spotted Brown's car. Except for a few minor details, everything seemed consistent with the information that had been received.

Police followed Brown's car, intending to stop it once backup units arrived, but he pulled off the highway into a gasoline station. From this point onward, the police version diverges sharply from that told by Brown and his companion. It is undisputed, however, that the police approached Brown, issued him a Miranda warning, and told him that they suspected he was transporting drugs. Although the police deny that Brown was in custody, they concede that they would not have let him drive away. Police searched Brown's vehicle and found a small quantity of marijuana in a jacket on the front seat of the car. After taking Brown and his companion to jail, a police canine unit searched the entire car including the engine compartment, and eventually discovered 48.70 grams of cocaine base hidden beneath the battery. Brown was then interviewed by officers. He admitted knowledge of the drugs and made statements aimed at exculpating his companion.

Brown was soon released from jail. The jury heard testimony that he continued transporting and distributing "crack" cocaine until he was re-arrested the following year.

PRETRIAL MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS

The district court found that although the police had a sufficient basis to stop the car, they did not actually do so, hence this was only an investigative stop pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). The district court also found that Brown and his companion voluntarily consented to the search of the car, and therefore denied Brown's motion to suppress the evidence seized and the statements that he made to police following his arrest. We review the district court's findings of fact for clear error. United States v. Garcia, 23 F.3d 1331, 1334 (8th Cir.1994). Whether Brown was deprived of his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is a mixed question of law and fact that we review de novo. Id. While we are inclined to believe that Brown was in custody, the end result is the same. The police had a sufficient basis to stop the car, and the district court's finding that Brown voluntarily consented to the search was not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, the district court did not err by denying Brown's motion to suppress.

TRIAL

Brown was ordered to furnish a handwriting sample so that it could be compared to certain incriminating documents which allegedly were in his handwriting. He refused. At trial, the jury was informed of Brown's refusal. Brown contends that this violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. We disagree. A handwriting exemplar is non-testimonial. Gilbert v. California, 388 U.S. 263, 266-67, 87 S.Ct. 1951, 18 L.Ed.2d 1178 (1967). Brown's refusal to give an exemplar was not privileged, and the jury could properly consider his refusal as evidence that the results of that testing would have been adverse.

We also hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Brown's request for a continuance, at the close of the government's case, so that his counsel could interview a prospective witness. Based upon the scant information that defense counsel provided to the court, it was very unlikely that this individual could provide relevant testimony, let alone evidence that might have affected the outcome of the trial.

SENTENCE

Brown contends the government failed to prove that he was distributing

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"crack" cocaine as opposed to some other form of cocaine base. We review for clear error the district court's findings as to the identity of the drug, reversing only if we are left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. United States v. Covington, 133 F.3d 639, 643 (8th Cir.1998).

During Brown's trial, a government chemist testified that the substance seized was "cocaine base." However, this witness did not expressly state that the substance was "crack" cocaine and she appeared to be unfamiliar with the process for manufacturing crack. For purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines the term "cocaine base" is limited to the particular form of cocaine base known as "crack" and does not include certain other substances that a chemist would also classify as cocaine base. See United States v. Montoya, 87 F.3d 621, 623 (2d...

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