321 F.3d 582 (6th Cir. 2003), 01-1005, U.S. v. Copeland

Docket Nº:01-1005, 01-1016.
Citation:321 F.3d 582
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Darwin Jay COPELAND; Anthony Antoine Hartwell, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:February 25, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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321 F.3d 582 (6th Cir. 2003)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Darwin Jay COPELAND; Anthony Antoine Hartwell, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 01-1005, 01-1016.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 25, 2003

Argued June 18, 2002.

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Mark C Jones (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, Flint, MI, Patricia G. Gaedeke (briefed), United States Attorney's Office, Detroit, MI, for Plaintiff-Appellee, U.S.

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Daniel D. Bremer (argued and briefed), Burton, MI, for Defendant-Appellant, Darwin Jay Copeland.

Anthony Antoine Hartwell, Terre Haute, IN, pro se.

Robert A. Ratliff (argued and briefed), Roberts, Shields & Green, Mobile, AL, for Defendant-Appellant, Anthony Antoine Hartwell.

Before: COLE and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; MILLS, District Judge.[*]

AMENDED OPINION

COLE, Circuit Judge.

Defendants-Appellants Darwin Jay Copeland and Anthony Antoine Hartwell appeal their convictions and sentences stemming from charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and 846 and for possession of a firearm by a felon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The defendants collectively raise seven claims on appeal. For the reasons discussed below, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

Copeland and Hartwell ("the defendants") were alleged to be members of an elaborate drug operation in the Flint, Michigan area. On September 1, 1999, the defendants were charged in a three-count indictment by the grand jury. Count One alleged that both defendants "did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully conspire, combine, confederate and agree with each other and other persons, both known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to distribute cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, and marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1)." Count Two alleged that Hartwell possessed a weapon while being a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), based upon the discovery of a weapon in Hartwell's vehicle on June 30, 1999. Count Three alleged that Copeland was also in unlawful possession of a weapon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), arising out of the same event.

A joint trial for the defendants commenced on April 5, 2000. At trial, the government introduced evidence seized in two searches. First, the government introduced evidence recovered from the defendants' vehicle pursuant to a traffic stop of the defendants on June 30, 1999 for illegal parking. After conducting a stop of the vehicle, Michigan State Troopers obtained the defendants' consent to search the vehicle; the officers recovered two stolen weapons and a sheet of paper which appeared to have drug tabulations recorded on it. Detective Michelle Dunkerley, a forensic document examiner, testified at trial that these notations were likely made by Hartwell.

The government also presented evidence recovered pursuant to a search warrant executed on July 9, 1999. The warrant authorized searches of several properties in Flint that were thought to be frequented by the defendants for the purposes of drug activity. Officers recovered a quantity of ammunition and a glass jar that is typically used for "cooking" cocaine, that is, converting powder cocaine into crack cocaine. The jar was later discovered to possess traces of cocaine base residue. Officers also seized papers containing drug tabulations reflecting the sale of numerous ounces of powder and crack cocaine. Detective Dunkerley testified that portions of

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these tabulations likely were made by the defendants.

In addition to this physical evidence, the government introduced extensive testimony by individuals who knew the defendants to be involved in both the sale and possession of drugs in Flint. Most notably, the government introduced the testimony of Joey Williams, a convicted drug dealer who claimed to have worked with both of the defendants. Hoping to obtain a downward departure in his own pending drug sentence, Williams provided extensive testimony about his involvement with the defendants in the distribution of powder and crack cocaine since 1986. Williams testified that, until his incarceration for drug charges in 1988, he and Hartwell frequented several drug houses in Flint at which they prepared cocaine and crack cocaine for distribution. Williams testified that upon his release from prison in 1994, he found that Hartwell was still actively involved in the distribution of drugs and had developed contacts with a drug supplier in Detroit. Williams testified that he later met Copeland in 1995 at a house on Russell Street, and the three soon began "cooking" cocaine and distributing it at various locations in Flint. Williams estimated that over the course of the charged conspiracy, he and Hartwell distributed hundreds of ounces of cocaine, about eighty percent of which was crack cocaine. Williams also estimated that he and Copeland distributed hundreds of ounces of cocaine, about twenty to thirty percent of which was crack cocaine.

In addition to Williams's testimony, the government also introduced the testimony of JaJuan Gardner, who testified that he had purchased drugs on two occasions from Hartwell. The government also presented the testimony of police officers who had arrested Copeland on three occasions for possession of a controlled substance.

At the close of the government's case, the defendants moved for judgment of acquittal, which the district court denied. On April 17, 2000, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts. The probation office prepared Presentence Investigation Reports recommending that the defendants be sentenced to a range of twenty years to life. The district court ultimately sentenced Copeland to a term of thirty years and Hartwell to a life sentence.

On December 11, 2000, the district court entered findings of guilty against the defendants. The defendants now collectively raise seven grounds for appeal, each arising out of various stages of their trial. In particular, the defendants claim that the district court erred during the pre-trial stage by (1) finding that probable cause existed to stop the defendants on June 30, 1999 based upon an antecedent parking violation. Copeland separately claims that at this stage of the trial the district court committed reversible error by (2) permitting the government to introduce Copeland's three prior arrests for drug possession under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b); (3) permitting the government to introduce statements by the defendants that they wanted to "get" the prosecutor as evidence of consciousness of guilt; and (4) permitting the government to improperly exercise a peremptory challenge in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). Hartwell separately claims that the district court erred during the guilt phase of trial by (5) finding there existed sufficient evidence to demonstrate his involvement in the conspiracy. The defendants also urge that the district court erred at sentencing by (6) increasing their sentences based upon factual findings that were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000).

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Copeland separately claims that the district court erred by (7) calculating an excessive drug quantity attributable to him under the Sentencing Guidelines.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Pre-Trial Claims

Motion to Suppress

The defendants appeal the district court's denial of their motion to suppress evidence recovered from their vehicle on June 30, 1999, including two stolen weapons and a sheet of paper containing drug tabulations in Hartwell's handwriting. The defendants argue that the officers lacked probable cause to stop their vehicle, and therefore the brief detention of the vehicle constituted an unlawful stop in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

At the suppression hearing, Michigan State Troopers Weber and Gillett ("the officers") testified that at around 1 a.m. on June 30, 1999, they observed the defendants inside a vehicle with its parking lights on, parked on the wrong side of the road at a 45-degree angle to the curb. The officers testified that they intended to stop the defendants in order to issue the driver a parking citation. However, while the officers were halted at a stop sign on Pasadena Avenue, a short distance from the defendants' vehicle on Milbourne Avenue, the defendants pulled away from the curb and resumed driving south along Milbourne Avenue at the legal speed. As the officers turned south on Milbourne, another car pulled out of the driveway in front of the officers and also proceeded southbound, between the defendants' vehicle and that of the officers. The officers followed the defendants' vehicle, although they did not activate their patrol lights. According to the officers, after following the defendants for about a mile, the third car turned off of Milbourne. The officers then activated their patrol lights and stopped the defendants. Upon smelling alcohol in the vehicle and observing alcohol in plain sight, the officers placed Hartwell under arrest and searched the defendants and the vehicle. The officers retrieved two stolen firearms and a sheet containing drug tabulations. The officers issued two traffic citations to the defendants: a citation for improper parking under mich. Comp. L. § 257.6751 and a citation for open intoxicants under mich. Comp. L. § 257.624(a)2 . The defendants were ultimately placed under arrest for transporting open intoxicants.

The defendants jointly moved to suppress the evidence recovered from Hartwell's vehicle during the course of this stop and search. When reviewing a motion to...

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