606 F.3d 875 (6th Cir. 2010), 08-1393, United States v. Hinojosa

Docket Nº:08-1393.
Citation:606 F.3d 875
Opinion Judge:LAWRENCE P. ZATKOFF, District Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Michael HINOJOSA, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Law Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant. Daniel Y. Mekaru, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee. Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Law Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant. Daniel Y. Mekaru, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, M...
Judge Panel:Before CLAY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; ZATKOFF, District Judge. [*]
Case Date:June 09, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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606 F.3d 875 (6th Cir. 2010)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Michael HINOJOSA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 08-1393.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

June 9, 2010

Argued April 28, 2010.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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ARGUED:

Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Law Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

Daniel Y. Mekaru, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Law Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

Daniel Y. Mekaru, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

Before CLAY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; ZATKOFF, District Judge. [*]

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OPINION

LAWRENCE P. ZATKOFF, District Judge.

Following a bench trial, Defendant was convicted and sentenced on the following six counts: (1) two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), (e); (2) two counts of Distribution of Image of Minor Engaging in Sexually Explicit Conduct in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), (b)(1); (3) one count of Possession of Images of Minors Engaging in Sexually Explicit Conduct in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B), (b)(2); and (4) one count of Possession of Child Pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), (b)(2).

Defendant's appeal contains the following three issues, all relating to the district court's denial of each of his four motions to suppress evidence:

I. Whether the entry into Appellant's home and the Appellant's arrest based on a non-existent warrant resulted in Fourth Amendment constitutional violations which required suppression of the evidence seized?

II. Whether the Appellant's Fourth Amendment constitutional rights were violated when the police made an uninvited and warrantless intrusion into his home, enabling the police to observe evidence which was used to obtain a search warrant?

III. Whether the evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant must be suppressed because of the Fourth Amendment constitutional violations involved in obtaining that search warrant?

For the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant was targeted as part of an international child pornography investigation involving authorities from the United States and Canada. As part of the investigation, undercover Canadian officials communicated with Defendant in an internet chat room that was believed to be a forum for exchanging child pornography. The online conversations contained graphic sexual talk, including Defendant's claims that he had engaged in sexual activities with his 13-year-old daughter " S." 1

In conjunction with these chat sessions, Defendant began to electronically transfer computer files that contained videos and images of child pornography. During a March 1, 2006, chat session, Defendant sent the Canadian officials two files containing videos depicting child pornography. He also provided three images of a young female, later determined to be S. On March 10, 2006, Defendant sent the agents another pornographic video file, which he claimed involved himself and S engaging in sexual activity. When questioned, Defendant acknowledged that S was 13 years old at the time the video was filmed.

The Canadian agents traced the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the transferring computer to Comcast, located in Michigan. The investigation was thereafter turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the United States. ICE issued Comcast a subpoena to ascertain the subscriber information for the tracked IP address. Comcast complied with the subpoena and informed the agents that the IP address was registered in Defendant's name at Defendant's Lansing, Michigan, home address. The agents later confirmed that a vehicle present at

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that address was registered in Defendant's name.

As part of the investigation, ICE Special Agent Craig Smith requested a check of Defendant's criminal history. Two different databases were consulted: The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), the latter having been consulted on two occasions by different officers.

The LEIN report and the NCIC report were inconsistent in several ways. The most significant difference was that the LEIN report indicated that Defendant had an outstanding arrest warrant, while the NCIC report contained no such indication. Despite several inconsistencies between the reports, Agent Smith and ICE Special Agent Michael George, accompanied by members of the Lansing Police Department, traveled to Defendant's residence to execute the arrest warrant.2 After arriving, they knocked on the door. Defendant's then-wife, Christine Spears (" Spears" ), answered the door, and the officers identified themselves. The officers informed Spears that they needed to speak with Defendant regarding an important matter and asked permission to enter the residence, which Spears granted.

Spears informed the officers that Defendant was feeling ill and was asleep in the bedroom. She offered to rouse him. The parties disagree over what happened next. The government contends that Spears consented to the officers' request to accompany her to the bedroom. Defendant maintains that no such consent was given, and that Spears was unaware that the officers had followed her until she reached the bedroom. While proceeding down the hallway to the bedroom, the agents recognized certain hardwood flooring, a set of French doors, and a distinctive black-and-white tile pattern in the bathroom, all of which were visible in the videos and images that Defendant had transferred to the Canadian authorities.

Upon entering Defendant's bedroom, Agent George identified himself and briefly questioned Defendant about S. Defendant's responses confirmed S's age and that it was S pictured in a non-pornographic image that Defendant had transmitted to the authorities. The officers then informed Defendant of the investigation and requested consent to search the residence and Defendant's computer. Defendant declined to consent to the searches.

At that point, Defendant was placed under arrest and advised of his Miranda rights. Defendant waived his rights and admitted to a sexual relationship with S and to the manufacture of pornography involving himself and S. During the interview, the agents determined that Defendant should be removed from the residence and taken to the police station. After arriving at the station, the interview continued, and Defendant confessed to engaging in sexual conduct with S on over fifty occasions. He also admitted that he manufactured the pornographic videos and images that he transmitted to the Canadian authorities.

Meanwhile, Agent Smith prepared an affidavit for a search warrant. The affidavit recited facts obtained both from the officers' observations of the residence and Defendant's statements, along with the knowledge previously gathered during the investigation. A magistrate judge issued a search warrant, which was executed later that day.

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A grand jury returned a six-count indictment. Defendant filed four motions to suppress evidence, arguing that his arrest and the subsequent search were unconstitutional. Following an evidentiary hearing, at which Defendant refused to permit his attorney to make objections, call witnesses, or " argue the facts of the case," the district court orally denied three of the motions. After requesting additional briefing on the remaining issue-the suppression of Defendant's pre- Miranda statements-the district court denied that motion as well.

The district court held a bench trial, at which Defendant again waived his rights to present evidence...

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