555 F.3d 535 (6th Cir. 2009), 06-4413, United States v. Bell

Docket Nº:06-4413.
Citation:555 F.3d 535
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Clarence BELL, III, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:February 17, 2009
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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555 F.3d 535 (6th Cir. 2009)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Clarence BELL, III, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 06-4413.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

February 17, 2009

Argued: Jan. 20, 2009.

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Matthew D. Besser, Elfvin & Besser, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant.

Daniel R. Ranke, Assistant United States Attorney, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.


Matthew D. Besser, Elfvin & Besser, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant.

Thomas M. Bauer, Assistant United States Attorney, Akron, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: MOORE, CLAY, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.



Defendant-Appellant Clarence Bell, III appeals the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop. After Bell was pulled over for speeding, a drug-detection dog alerted to Bell's vehicle, and a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed four bags containing crack cocaine. Bell was indicted on one count of possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base (crack) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A). After the district court denied Bell's motion to suppress, Bell pleaded guilty to the count alleged, but reserved his right to appeal the denial of the motion to suppress. On appeal, Bell argues that the district court erred in denying his motion because the officers ceased diligently pursuing the purpose of the initial stop without reasonable suspicion of drug activity. Because we conclude that Bell's seizure was not unreasonably prolonged beyond the purposes of the initial stop, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of the motion to suppress.


On February 1, 2006, Trooper Todd Roberts and Sergeant Terry Helton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (collectively, " the Officers" ) were monitoring traffic on Interstate 80. At approximately 12:57 p.m.,1 the Officers clocked Bell's speed with a laser device at 80 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone. After Bell pulled over, Trooper Roberts approached the vehicle and asked Bell for his license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. Bell informed Trooper Roberts that he was driving a rental car and handed Trooper Roberts his driver's license and the rental agreement. Trooper Roberts

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testified that, when looking for the rental agreement, Bell " was moving very fast towards the glove box, and then he reached up towards the visor." Joint Appendix (" J.A." ) at 38 (Roberts Test. at 11). Trooper Roberts informed Bell of the reason for the stop and asked him where he was going. Bell stated that he was traveling from Detroit to Cleveland to pick up his aunt to bring her back to Detroit for a funeral. According to Trooper Roberts, Bell's story " sounded rehearsed" because " he repeated that story several times" and " he said it the exact same way each time, or very similar to the way he said it before." Id. Trooper Roberts also noted that Bell " had a cell phone laying in his lap as if he was waiting to call someone, or he had his hands on the cell phone when he wasn't moving," id., and that Bell " didn't make any specific eye contact with [Trooper Roberts] while [Bell] was speaking," J.A. at 39 (Roberts Test. at 12). Trooper Roberts found Bell to be " overly cooperative," which Roberts thought was abnormal. J.A. at 50 (Roberts Test. at 23). Overall, Trooper Roberts thought that Bell " just seemed very deceptive in the things he was doing." J.A. at 39 (Roberts Test. at 12).

Roberts then returned to his patrol car and immediately began a computer check of Bell's license. While waiting for the results of the background check, Trooper Roberts and Sergeant Helton discussed Trooper Roberts's interactions with Bell. Trooper Roberts told Sergeant Helton that Bell did not seem nervous, but did sound rehearsed. Sergeant Helton asked Trooper Roberts if he wanted Helton to call " Bob," referring to Trooper Robert Farabaugh, the canine handler who was nearby. At approximately three minutes into the stop, Sergeant Helton radioed for the police dog to come to the scene. J.A. at 183 (Video at 14:20:50-58). Sergeant Helton also advised Trooper Roberts that he should get Bell out of the car so that they would not have to worry about doing so when the dog handler arrived. J.A. at 183 (Video at 14:22:17-20).

The Officers also discovered that the rental agreement was not in Bell's name, but the car was rented instead to a Laticia Kelley. They noticed that the rental agreement did not allow additional drivers without prior written approval. J.A. at 183 (Video 14:21:08-41). Sergeant Helton instructed Trooper Roberts to go back to the vehicle and ask Bell about the rental agreement. J.A. at 183 (Video at 14:23:23-29). Trooper Roberts then approached Bell's vehicle and asked if Bell had written permission from Avis, the rental company, to operate the vehicle. Bell replied that his girlfriend, whose name was on the rental agreement, had called Avis and obtained permission over the phone for Bell to operate the vehicle, but that he did not have written permission. Trooper Roberts then returned to the patrol car, at which time he completed the computer check on Bell's license, which had returned no warrants.

While Trooper Roberts was in the patrol car, approximately ten minutes after the stop was initiated, Trooper Farabaugh arrived on the scene with the dog.2 Sergeant Helton then told Trooper Roberts that he would need to get Bell out of the car " one way or the other." J.A. at 183 (Video at 14:27:37). Sergeant Helton suggested that Trooper Roberts give Bell a warning for speeding and have Bell get out of the car while writing the warning so that the dog handler could walk the dog

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around the car to perform a sniff. Trooper Roberts then approached Bell's vehicle for a third time and told Bell that Roberts was going to give Bell a warning for speeding, rather than a citation. Trooper Roberts asked Bell to exit the vehicle, telling him, " We got a dog working the area. He just happened to stop right here behind me. He's going to run around your car, so maybe just step right out here in the front for me, and I'll explain the warning for you." J.A. at 183 (Video at 14:28:37-40). At approximately eleven minutes into the stop, Bell exited the vehicle and walked to the front of the vehicle, where he and Trooper Roberts sat on the guardrail and Trooper Roberts wrote out the warning and continued to question Bell about his story. Trooper Roberts testified that he had Bell exit the vehicle because Trooper Farabaugh prefers for officer-safety reasons that the car be empty when he...

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