U.S. v. Huguenin, Nos. 97-5152

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCONTIE; KENNEDY
Citation154 F.3d 547
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Judith Ann HUGUENIN (97-5152) and William A. Martin (97-5160), Defendants-Appellants.
Docket Number97-5160,Nos. 97-5152
Decision Date19 October 1998

Page 547

154 F.3d 547
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Judith Ann HUGUENIN (97-5152) and William A. Martin
(97-5160), Defendants-Appellants.
Nos. 97-5152, 97-5160.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued April 28, 1998.
Decided Aug. 18, 1998.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 19, 1998.

Page 549

Mary M. Aubry (argued and briefed), Assistant U.S. Attorney, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Wade V. Davies (argued and briefed), Ritchie, Fels & Dillard, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Defendant-Appellant Huguenin.

Wade V. Davies (argued), Ritchie, Fels & Dillard, Knoxville, Tennessee, Ralph E. Harwell (briefed), Law Offices of Ralph E. Harwell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Defendant-Appellant Martin.

Before: KENNEDY, CONTIE, and MOORE, Circuit Judges.

CONTIE, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which MOORE, J., joined. KENNEDY, J. (pp. 563-565), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.

OPINION

CONTIE, Circuit Judge.

Defendants-appellants Judith A. Huguenin and William A. Martin appeal the denial of their joint motion to suppress evidence obtained after a search and seizure at an automobile checkpoint. Following their conditional pleas of guilty for possession with intent to distribute marijuana, defendants challenged the constitutionality of police procedures used to stop motorists exiting off a Tennessee highway upon warning that motorists are approaching a narcotics/DUI checkpoint. Because we conclude that the procedures used by law enforcement officers were unconstitutional, we REVERSE the denial of the defendants' motion to suppress. 1

I.

On March 19, 1996, defendants Judith Huguenin and William Martin were each indicted on one count of possessing with the intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B). The charges stemmed from defendants' detention at a drug/DUI checkpoint at the Airport Road exit off Interstate 40 in Roane County, Tennessee.

On March 14, 1996 at approximately 4:30 p.m., Ms. Huguenin and Mr. Martin were traveling eastbound on Interstate 40. Mr. Martin was driving, and Ms. Huguenin was in the front passenger's seat. In Roane County, Tennessee, they passed two large, square signs with the words "DRUG-DUI ENFORCEMENT CHECK POINT 1/2 MILE AHEAD." One sign was on each side of the road. Mr. Martin turned onto an exit ramp for Airport Road about 150-200 yards or a quarter mile after the signs. When a driver exits at Airport Road, the end of the long exit ramp is not immediately visible as the ramp curves and bears to the left. When Mr. Martin drove up the exit ramp, there were four orange cones on the side of the road near the turn at the end of the exit. Two were on each side-the first two approximately three to four feet from the intersection, the next two approximately fifteen to twenty feet from the first. The checkpoint was at the end of the exit at a stop sign.

Officer Dennis Worley of the Roane County, Tennessee Sheriff's Department had established this checkpoint as a "ruse" to stop motorists who chose to exit off the highway after viewing the signs warning of an upcoming DUI/narcotics checkpoint on the highway. Although the two signs posted on eastbound I-40 read "DRUG-DUI ENFORCEMENT CHECK POINT 1/2 MILE AHEAD," the officers had no checkpoint in place on the highway. Instead, Officer Worley set up the checkpoint at the end of the Airport Road exit ramp, which is the first exit available to motorists after the posted signs, but is not frequently used, because no services are offered at that exit. Motorists could not see the officers at the roadblock at the end of the ramp until they came around the curve--approximately 50 to 100 yards into the uphill exit ramp. After a motorist gets off at the exit, there is no place to turn around to avoid the checkpoint as it is illegal to back down an exit ramp in Tennessee.

Page 550

The checkpoint had been authorized by the Roane County Sheriff's Department, which had established a policy in December 1994 regarding the proper procedures for setting up and running a narcotics/sobriety checkpoint. The ostensible goal of the policy was "to remove impaired drivers from our highways as safely as possible with due regard to the safety of the public and the officer(s)." The procedure used at the checkpoint was for an officer to approach the motorist at the stop sign. No set questions were asked. It was left to the discretion of the officer whether or not to ask the motorist his reasons for exiting at Airport Road. Depending on the response, the officer would question the motorist further or allow the vehicle to proceed.

On average, it took an officer operating the checkpoint approximately ten to fifteen seconds to determine whether a driver was intoxicated. While the checkpoint was in operation, the county's drug dog, King, was always present. There was, however, never a breathalyzer at the checkpoint. Although the checkpoint's main operator had asked for a breathalyzer, none had been provided. Objects seized at the checkpoint were subject to forfeiture. The money raised through forfeiture went into the county's drug fund, which "funds narcotics enforcement," and into the D.A.R.E. 2 program.

Officer Worley had utilized this "ruse" sixty-five times at the Airport Road exit prior to May 14, 1996. On that day, the roadblock operated from 1:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., five law enforcement officers were present: Sheriff's Deputy Dennis Worley, Reserve Officers Joe Brock, Steve Halcolmb, and Jason Halcolmb, and an unidentified Highway Patrolman. 3 Each officer was in uniform and armed. With the men were five vehicles: a marked sheriff's car, a marked Highway Patrol car, two unmarked law enforcement cars, and a D.A.R.E. trailer.

When defendants exited at Airport Road on April 14, 1996, a sign normally posted to inform motorists about the purpose of the checkpoint was absent from the ramp. Officer Joe Brock, a volunteer reserve officer with no specific training in detecting intoxicated drivers, approached their vehicle. He indicated that there was no set procedure for stopping cars, and he just happened to be there when defendants drove up. It was left up to Brock's discretion on how to question motorists. He decided that when the vehicle's license plate revealed out-of-state tags, he would ask the motorist his or her reason for using the exit. Because defendants' vehicle displayed Wyoming tags, Brock informed defendants that they had been stopped at a Roane County drug/DUI checkpoint and asked defendant Martin, the driver, why he had exited at Airport Road.

When Mr. Martin replied that they were in search of gasoline, Officer Brock looked at the gas gauge and saw that it indicated a full tank. Officer Brock did not notice anything that indicated that Mr. Martin had been drinking and did not ask him if he had been drinking. He detected no alcohol on his breath and noticed no other indicators of intoxication. After Officer Brock had spoken to defendants for approximately one to two minutes, Officer Worley approached the car, and Officer Brock backed away.

Officer Worley addressed defendants through the driver's window. He also told

Page 551

them that they had entered the Roane County Sheriff's Department's drug/DUI checkpoint, and that the officers were looking for individuals who were driving under the influence or transporting illegal drugs. Officer Worley also noticed that defendants' car had Wyoming tags. He testified that Mr. Martin gripped the steering wheel and did not look at him at all during the conversation. He testified that Ms. Huguenin looked at him, but was shaking and nervous. He asked whether Mr. Martin needed help because he had exited at a ramp where no services were located. When Mr. Martin informed him that he pulled off to fill his gas tank, Officer Worley accused him of lying, and Mr. Martin did not respond. Officer Worley then asked for consent to search the van, which was denied.

Believing he had enough reasonable suspicion to conduct a canine search, Officer Worley brought the drug dog to the van, where it alerted to the back of the van. Officer Worley informed defendants of the indication, told them he was going to search the van, and asked them to step out. Around this time, Ms. Huguenin spontaneously informed Officer Worley that she had a small bag of marijuana in a coat pocket inside the van. Mr. Martin stated that he had not seen the dog indicate. The dog was brought back and again indicated at the back of the van. Officer Worley got the keys and opened the back door of the van, and the dog alerted to a blanket on the floor. Officer Worley searched the van and found 265.7 pounds of marijuana hidden in several bags under the blanket. He immediately arrested defendants.

Defendants Martin and Huguenin were indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B). On April 26, 1996, they filed a joint motion to suppress. They challenged the validity of the checkpoint, arguing that it unconstitutionality tainted the detention and search that subsequently occurred. A magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation denying the joint motion to suppress on June 4, 1996. After an evidentiary hearing to determine the purpose of the checkpoint, the district court adopted the Report and Recommendation on October 7, 1996, and denied the motion to suppress.

Ms. Huguenin and Mr. Martin then entered conditional pleas of guilty on November 19, 1996, reserving their right to appeal the constitutionality of the checkpoint. In addition, Mr. Martin reserved the right to appeal the district court's calculation of the amount of marijuana for sentencing purposes.

On January 24, 1997, the district court sentenced Ms. Huguenin to two years, six months imprisonment and four years supervised release. On January 27, the court sentenced Mr. Martin to five years imprisonment and four...

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27 practice notes
  • United States v. Johnson, No. 1:12cv1349.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 7, 2015
    ...checkpoints that operated for pretextual lawful purposes but with actual unlawful purposes. See United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 558–59 (6th Cir.1998) ; United States v. Morales–Zamora, 974 F.2d 149, 152–53 (10th Cir.1992) ; State v. DeBooy, 996 P.2d 546, 551 (Utah 2000). Since Edmo......
  • Commonwealth v. Rodriguez, SJC–11814.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • September 22, 2015
    ...must possess at least reasonable suspicion to justify a motor vehicle stop. Id. at 580, 722 N.E.2d 429, quoting United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 553 (6th Cir.1998). Again, a motor vehicle stop conducted as part of a suspicionless roadblock is markedly different from a motor vehicle ......
  • State v Hicks, 99-00957
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 11, 2001
    ...assume a special role in ensuring that constitutional safeguards are not eroded by subterfuge or pretext. Cf. United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 555 (6th Cir. 1998) ("We believe the Fourth Amendment requires that police deception and subterfuge must be carefully scrutinized in regard ......
  • U.S. v. Campbell, No. 08-CR-20212-DT.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • April 20, 2009
    ...and more serious crime for which they do not have the reasonable suspicion necessary to support a stop." United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 559 n. 10 (6th Cir.1998). Defendant, however, has presented no evidence to support this contention and the testimony at the evidentiary hearing p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • United States v. Johnson, No. 1:12cv1349.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 7, 2015
    ...checkpoints that operated for pretextual lawful purposes but with actual unlawful purposes. See United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 558–59 (6th Cir.1998) ; United States v. Morales–Zamora, 974 F.2d 149, 152–53 (10th Cir.1992) ; State v. DeBooy, 996 P.2d 546, 551 (Utah 2000). Since Edmo......
  • Commonwealth v. Rodriguez, SJC–11814.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • September 22, 2015
    ...must possess at least reasonable suspicion to justify a motor vehicle stop. Id. at 580, 722 N.E.2d 429, quoting United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 553 (6th Cir.1998). Again, a motor vehicle stop conducted as part of a suspicionless roadblock is markedly different from a motor vehicle ......
  • State v Hicks, 99-00957
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 11, 2001
    ...assume a special role in ensuring that constitutional safeguards are not eroded by subterfuge or pretext. Cf. United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 555 (6th Cir. 1998) ("We believe the Fourth Amendment requires that police deception and subterfuge must be carefully scrutinized in regard ......
  • U.S. v. Campbell, No. 08-CR-20212-DT.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • April 20, 2009
    ...and more serious crime for which they do not have the reasonable suspicion necessary to support a stop." United States v. Huguenin, 154 F.3d 547, 559 n. 10 (6th Cir.1998). Defendant, however, has presented no evidence to support this contention and the testimony at the evidentiary hearing p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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