772 F.3d 969 (2nd Cir. 2014), 13-4152-cr, United States v. Anderson

Docket Nº:13-4152-cr
Citation:772 F.3d 969
Opinion Judge:Barrington D. Parker, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellant, v. VALENTINO ANDERSON, Appellee-Defendant
Attorney:CRAIG S. NOLAN, (Gregory L. Waples on the brief), for Tristram J. Coffin, United States Attorney, District of Vermont, Burlington, VT, for Appellant. RICHARD C. BOTHFELD, Bothfeld & Volk P.C., Burlington, VT, for Appellee-Defendant.
Judge Panel:Before: PARKER, LYNCH and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:November 24, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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772 F.3d 969 (2nd Cir. 2014)



VALENTINO ANDERSON, Appellee-Defendant

No. 13-4152-cr

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

November 24, 2014

Argued October 1, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. No. 13 CR 24 -- Christina Reiss, Chief Judge. Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont (Reiss, Chief Judge), suppressing physical evidence seized from defendant Valentino Anderson's wife, Crystal Anderson. The district court held that admitting against Anderson in his narcotics trafficking prosecution cocaine base that his wife recovered from a body cavity and surrendered to the state police as a result of unconstitutional coercive tactics would violate Anderson's right to substantive due process. Accordingly, the court suppressed the evidence. Because Anderson cannot suppress evidence that was seized through an illegal search directed at another person, we reverse.

CRAIG S. NOLAN, (Gregory L. Waples on the brief), for Tristram J. Coffin, United States Attorney, District of Vermont, Burlington, VT, for Appellant.

RICHARD C. BOTHFELD, Bothfeld & Volk P.C., Burlington, VT, for Appellee-Defendant.

Before: PARKER, LYNCH and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.


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Barrington D. Parker, Circuit Judge:

The Government appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont (Reiss, C.J.) suppressing, on substantive due process grounds, drugs that had been secreted within the vagina of Crystal Anderson, the wife of defendant Valentino Anderson, and that she surrendered to Vermont state police officers after a lengthy custodial interrogation during which she was the subject of unconstitutional, coercive conduct. The District Court held that, because the conduct of the Vermont state troopers vis-à-vis Mrs. Anderson was sufficiently outrageous, the drugs could not be admitted into evidence at Valentino Anderson's trial. The Government does not contest on appeal that the conduct of the Vermont state troopers violated Mrs. Anderson's substantive due process rights, but contends that Anderson cannot assert such a claim based on conduct directed solely at his wife. For the reasons that follow, we agree and we reverse.


Evidence adduced during the suppression proceedings established the following. On October 30, 2012, the Vermont state police conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle

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that defendant Valentino Anderson was driving with his wife, Crystal Anderson, and another passenger named Kenneth Clark. The ostensible basis for the stop was that the vehicle's front headlights were not illuminated in violation of Vermont state law. Earlier that evening, Senior Trooper Michael Studin had received a call from a Massachusetts state trooper informing him that a suspicious vehicle was traveling north on Interstate 91. The Massachusetts state trooper described the vehicle for Studin and told him that the registered owner (Anderson) had numerous prior arrests, including ones for drugs and firearms. Studin then contacted Senior Trooper Max Trenosky to tell him that there was " a potential drug load coming up Interstate 91," and Trenosky stationed himself on Interstate 91 near the Vermont/Massachusetts border. United States v. Anderson, No. 5:13 Cr. 24, 2013 WL 5769976, at *2 (D.Vt. Oct. 24, 2013).

Approximately forty-five minutes later, Studin located the vehicle traveling north on Interstate 91, through Brattleboro, Vermont, and observed the vehicle exit the highway and pull into a gas station. When the vehicle subsequently left the gas station, Studin stopped the vehicle. Trenosky arrived at the scene shortly thereafter.

When questioned, the three occupants offered differing accounts of their movements and of the purpose of their trip. Anderson was required to leave the vehicle and, according to Studin, consented to be searched. Studin questioned Anderson, who eventually told Studin that he and his wife had used drugs in the past and that she had " problems with heroin and crack cocaine." Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *2.

Meanwhile, Trenosky interrogated and searched Clark and Mrs. Anderson, and Studin then sought and obtained Anderson's consent to search the vehicle. Trenosky found drug paraphernalia in Mrs. Anderson's handbag and drug residue in a bag in the pocket of Anderson's jacket. Studin placed Mrs. Anderson in handcuffs, telling her that " she was being detained for investigatory purposes," and asked her to sit in the front passenger seat of Trenosky's vehicle. Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *3. Another Vermont state police trooper then arrived at the scene with a search dog. During an exterior search of Anderson's vehicle, the dog alerted to the presence of drugs and after a search of the front passenger seat where Mrs. Anderson had been sitting, the dog again alerted to the presence of narcotics. Based on the reaction of the dog, the troopers apparently believed that Mrs. Anderson may have secreted drugs on her person.

Anderson and Clark were subsequently released, but the troopers detained Mrs. Anderson. The troopers did not tell her that she had been placed under arrest. They did, however, tell her that she was being taken to the state police barracks and that they intended to apply for a warrant for a body cavity search. Mrs. Anderson informed the troopers that she knew her rights and that the officers had no grounds for obtaining such a warrant. At the barracks, Mrs. Anderson was handcuffed to a chair in the processing room while Studin contacted the state's attorney and applied for a warrant for a body cavity search. The state court judge denied the application. Both Studin and Trenosky were informed that their application had been denied, but they and the other troopers undertook to conceal this fact from Mrs. Anderson.

At some point, Studin and Trenosky were joined by a female officer, Aubrey Crowley. After Mrs. Anderson had been handcuffed to the chair for approximately three hours, Crowley approached her,

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asked if she needed water and told her, referring to the warrant, " just so you know, he's going to go see the judge right now and get that all signed off, alright?" Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *4. The district court concluded that, prior to this conversation, Crowley presumably had learned that the warrant application had been denied and so her statement to Mrs. Anderson was false.

Another thirty minutes later, after Mrs. Anderson had been handcuffed to the chair for three and a half hours, Crowley returned to give her water and said, " [S]o we're going to be headed over to the hospital, okay?" Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *4. After viewing the police videos of the processing room, the district court described Mrs. Anderson as appearing " disheveled, groggy and uncommunicative, hanging her head or turning away as Officer Crowley attempted to engage her in conversation." Id. Crowley asked Mrs. Anderson if she wanted to share her story with Crowley specifically because Crowley was also " a girl" and because the other troopers could be " a little brusque" and " hard to talk to." Id. Mrs. Anderson again requested to see the warrant and indicated that she might talk if she saw a warrant. Mrs. Anderson asked Crowley why she would not show her the warrant if the police officers were about to take her to the hospital where she would be forcibly searched. Crowley did not tell her the warrant had been denied.

After approximately four hours of detention, Crowley took Mrs. Anderson to a conference room in the barracks where Mrs. Anderson told Crowley: " [L]ike I said, you show me the warrant [or] there's no point" and again Crowley did not mention that the application had been denied. Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *5. Some time later, in the early morning of October 31, Trenosky came to join Crowley and Mrs. Anderson and (as he recounted) he " made small talk by bringing up the fact that her husband had a poor relationship with her as he threw her 'under the bus' roadside" and " that it speaks volumes about his character, how he left her and went back to Rutland." Id. Trenosky also told Mrs. Anderson that he was " disappointed" with her and that her relationship with her husband " must not be that good if he was willing to let her take responsibility for trafficking his drugs." Id.

Crowley brought the unsigned search warrant application into the room and Mrs. Anderson asked why the warrant had not been signed by the judge. She again said that if she saw a signed copy she might agree to speak with the officers. None of the officers told her that the judge had refused to sign the warrant and Trenosky " reiterated how poorly her husband treated her." Anderson, 2013 WL 5769976, at *5. At that point, Mrs. Anderson began to cry and said that she was not willing to risk a lengthy period of incarceration to protect her husband. Then, Trenosky finally read Mrs. Anderson her Miranda warnings and asked if she would speak with him. She signed a waiver form...

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