732 F.3d 569 (6th Cir. 2013), 12-1591, United States v. Brown

Docket Nº:12-1591.
Citation:732 F.3d 569
Opinion Judge:BOYCE F. MARTIN, Jr. Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sidney BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Scott Graham, Scott Graham PLLC, Portage, Michigan, for Appellant. Sally J. Berens, United States Attorney's Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee. Scott Graham, Scott Graham PLLC, Portage, Michigan, for Appellant. Mark V. Courtade, United States Attorney's OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ...
Judge Panel:Before: MARTIN, GUY, and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 27, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 569

732 F.3d 569 (6th Cir. 2013)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sidney BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 12-1591.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

June 27, 2013

Argued: May 2, 2013.

Page 570

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 571

ARGUED:

Scott Graham, Scott Graham PLLC, Portage, Michigan, for Appellant.

Sally J. Berens, United States Attorney's Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Scott Graham, Scott Graham PLLC, Portage, Michigan, for Appellant.

Mark V. Courtade, United States Attorney's OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

Before: MARTIN, GUY, and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges.

Page 572

AMENDED OPINION

BOYCE F. MARTIN, Jr. Circuit Judge.

A jury convicted Sidney Brown of two crimes: (1) possession with intent to distribute twenty-eight grams or more of cocaine base and (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Brown's appeal poses three questions. First, did the affidavit accompanying the search-warrant application establish probable cause for the magistrate to issue the search warrant? We hold that it did. Second, did the district court err by refusing to hold a Franks hearing? We hold that it did not. Third, could any rational trier of fact have found Brown guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime? We hold that any rational trier of fact could have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, Brown guilty of this crime. Given the answers to these questions, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment.

A confidential informant told law enforcement that he had seen cocaine and what he considered to be drug dealing at Sidney Brown's house. A law-enforcement officer applied for a warrant to search Brown's home; in the affidavit accompanying the application, the officer recounted what the informant had told him. A federal magistrate issued the warrant and, upon executing it, law enforcement found cocaine, a Beretta pistol, which Brown admitted was his, and $4,700 in cash, in Brown's home. Brown moved to suppress the evidence seized, arguing that the affidavit failed to establish probable cause for the search; in the alternative, Brown argued for a Franks hearing because he asserted that the affidavit contained false statements. The district court, in a written opinion, denied the motion.

At trial, at the close of the prosecution's case, Brown moved, under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, for acquittal on all counts. The district court denied the motion. Neither Brown nor the government put on any new evidence. Then, the district court announced to the jury that the " the proofs in this matter" had been concluded.

A federal jury found Brown guilty of all three counts in the indictment: (1) possession with intent to distribute twenty-eight grams or more of cocaine base, a violation of 21 U.S.C. sections 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(iii); (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(1)(A)(i); and (3) possession, as a felon, of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(1). The district court sentenced him to seventeen-and-a-half years' imprisonment. Brown timely appealed only counts (1) and (2).

On appeal, Brown argues that the district court erred both in denying his motion to suppress and in rejecting his argument that the officer's affidavit did not provide probable cause for the magistrate to issue the search warrant. When reviewing a district court's order denying a defendant's motion to suppress, we review for clear error the district court's factual findings, but we review de novo the district court's application of the law to those facts. United States v. Keith, 559 F.3d 499, 503 (6th Cir.2009) (citing United States v. Garcia, 496 F.3d 495, 502 (6th Cir.2007)).

The district court held no fact-finding hearing in conjunction with Brown's motion to suppress; rather, the court reviewed the affidavit and held that it provided probable cause for the magistrate to issue the search warrant. Therefore, we will review de novo the court's legal conclusion that the affidavit provided probable cause. United States v. Leake, 998 F.2d 1359, 1362 (6th Cir.1993). Given the de novo standard of review, where, as here, the district court reviewed the magistrate's probable cause determination, we owe the

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district court's conclusion no particular deference. Id., at 1362-63.

Yet we must give great deference to a magistrate's determination of probable cause. United States v. Greene, 250 F.3d 471, 478 (6th Cir.2001) (citing United States v. Allen, 211 F.3d 970, 973 (6th Cir.2000) (en banc), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 907, 121 S.Ct. 251, 148 L.Ed.2d 181 (2000) (parallel citations omitted); United States v. Finch, 998 F.2d 349, 352 (6th Cir.1993); United States v. Davidson, 936 F.2d 856, 859 (6th Cir.1991)). Consequently, we may only reverse a magistrate's decision to grant a search warrant if the magistrate arbitrarily exercised his or her authority. Id. (citing Allen, 211 F.3d at 973; Finch, 998 F.2d at 352; United States v. Swihart, 554 F.2d 264, 267-68 (6th Cir.1977)).

We review the probable-cause sufficiency of an affidavit to ascertain " ‘ whether the magistrate had a substantial basis for finding that the affidavit established probable cause to believe that the evidence would be found at the place cited.’ " Id. (quoting Davidson, 936 F.2d at 859). Probable cause exists " ‘ when there is a...

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