510 F.3d 788 (8th Cir. 2007), 07-1407, United States v. Sanders

Docket Nº:07-1407.
Citation:510 F.3d 788
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Reubin R. SANDERS, Appellant.
Case Date:December 20, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 788

510 F.3d 788 (8th Cir. 2007)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Reubin R. SANDERS, Appellant.

No. 07-1407.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

December 20, 2007

Submitted: Oct. 16, 2007.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Stephen C. Moss, Asst. Fed. Public Defender, Kansas City, MO, argued (Raymond C. Conrad, Jr., Fed. Public Defender, on the brief), for appellant.

John F. Wood, U.S. Atty., Kansas City, MO, argued (Philip M. Koppe, Asst. U.S. Atty., Kansas City, MO, on the brief), for appellee.

Before BYE, BOWMAN, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

Reubin R. Sanders was indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). He filed a motion to suppress evidence of the firearm, arguing that it was the product of an illegal seizure. The District Court 1 denied the

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motion, and Sanders pleaded guilty to the charge while reserving the right to appeal the evidentiary issue. Sanders now exercises that right to appeal. We affirm.

The facts in this case are not in dispute. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on January 23, 2006, Officer Toni Uredi of the Jackson County, Missouri, Sheriff's Department observed Donald Wilson driving a Plymouth Acclaim in Kansas City, Missouri. Aware that Wilson's driver's license was suspended, Officer Uredi began following the car. Officer Uredi radioed in the car's license plate information and was told that the license plate number was not registered to a Plymouth Acclaim.2 Officer Uredi activated his lights and initiated a traffic stop of the car. The car stopped in a parking lot next to an apartment building in what Officer Uredi considered to be a high-crime area. Before Officer Uredi could approach the car, Sanders, who was a passenger in the front seat, got out. Officer Uredi immediately ordered Sanders to reenter the car, which Sanders did after Officer Uredi repeated the order two more times. Officer Uredi then approached the driver's side of the car to speak with Wilson. As he neared the car, Officer Uredi saw a black pistol grip protruding from Sanders's left front pocket. Officer Uredi radioed for assistance. After other officers arrived, Sanders was forcibly removed from the car, and a semiautomatic pistol was removed from his pocket.

Sanders was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Sanders filed a motion to suppress evidence of the gun on the ground that he was unlawfully seized when Officer Uredi ordered him to reenter the car, making evidence of the gun found on his person the so-called "poisonous fruit" of the seizure. Following an evidentiary hearing, the magistrate judge recommended that the motion to suppress be denied. The District Court adopted the magistrate judge's recommendation and denied the motion. Sanders entered a conditional plea of guilty, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. He now timely appeals the evidentiary ruling.

"On appeal from a denial of a motion to suppress, we review for clear error the factual findings of the district court and we review de novo the legal determination that the Fourth Amendment was not violated." United States v. Robinson, 455 F.3d 832, 834 (8th Cir. 2006). Evidence that is the “‘fruit’ “of a seizure that violates the Fourth Amendment is not admissible. United States v. Vega-Rico, 417 F.3d 976, 979 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 485, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963)).

Sanders does not contest the legality of the initial stop of Wilson's car. Sanders argues, rather, that Officer Uredi violated his Fourth Amendment rights by subsequently ordering him to reenter the stopped car--thereby detaining him--without a basis to infer that he was involved in criminal activity. If the detention was not reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, then the gun found as a result of the detention was the fruit of an illegal seizure and evidence of it...

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