U.S. v. Lopez-Medina, No. 05-5891.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtR. Guy Cole, Jr.
Citation461 F.3d 724
Decision Date25 August 2006
Docket NumberNo. 05-5891.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Luis LOPEZ-MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant.
461 F.3d 724
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Luis LOPEZ-MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 05-5891.
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
Argued: June 8, 2006.
Decided and Filed: August 25, 2006.

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ARGUED: Alfred S. Donau III, Donau & Bolt, Tucson, Arizona, for Appellant. Vijay Shanker, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Alfred S. Donau III, Donau & Bolt, Tucson, Arizona, for Appellant. Vijay Shanker, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., Sunny A. Koshy, Assistant United States Attorney, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee.

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

OPINION

R. GUY COLE, JR., Circuit Judge.


Defendant-Appellant Luis Lopez-Medina ("Medina") appeals his jury conviction for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, as well as his sentence of 292 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release, based upon the district court's finding that he conspired to distribute 147 kilograms of cocaine. Medina presents the following issues on appeal: 1) a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with his trial; 2) a challenge to the district court's denial of his pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of Medina's house; 3) several claims that the district court committed reversible error in admitting certain evidence; 4) an appeal of the district court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal; 5) a claim of prosecutorial misconduct; and 6) several challenges to his sentence under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S.Ct. 738, 160 L.Ed.2d 621 (2005).

For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of Medina's motion for a judgment of acquittal, VACATE Medina's conviction and sentence, and REMAND for further proceedings.

I. Background

Medina is a citizen of Mexico who was living in Nashville, Tennessee in 2003. Medina's residence was under surveillance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in August 2003. Two surveillance cameras were positioned in concealed locations on the residence next door to Medina's (the "surveillance residence"). On August 7, 2003, Billy Joe Mundy, a Special Officer with the DEA, was reviewing surveillance tapes within the surveillance residence. The tapes revealed the following activity: Medina

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changed the license plates on one of the vehicles in his driveway; a red truck arrived, picked up Medina, and returned a short time later; the red truck returned two hours later and Medina assisted an unknown male in transporting suitcases from the truck to Medina's residence; the unknown male emerged from the house ten minutes later with a suitcase and departed; and Medina emerged from his residence and briefly rode around the neighborhood on a bicycle, which Mundy opined at trial was likely an act of "counter-surveillance."

Later that day, Mundy observed that Medina appeared to notice and directly approach each of the concealed cameras on the surveillance residence. Mundy called for assistance, reporting that he believed surveillance had been compromised. David Lance Hampton, a DEA Task Force Officer, arrived and reviewed the videotapes. Approximately three hours after Medina's apparent discovery of the surveillance cameras, a silver car pulled into Medina's driveway. Mundy and Hampton testified that a black male, later identified as Gary Jackson, exited the vehicle with a large duffle bag and entered the residence. Less than one minute later, Jackson reemerged from the residence carrying the same duffle bag, which appeared to be heavier than when he arrived, and immediately drove away. Mundy alerted other members of the Task Force regarding Jackson's arrival and departure with the duffle bag, and requested that they stop his vehicle. Task Force members engaged in a vehicular pursuit of Jackson, who fled at a high rate of speed and at one point hit another vehicle. The agents were not successful in apprehending him.

Less than a minute after Jackson's departure, Medina emerged from his residence and rode around the neighborhood on his bicycle once again. Mundy and Hampton emerged from the surveillance residence and approached Medina on the street. Their weapons were concealed. Mundy identified himself and instructed Medina to dismount from his bicycle. Medina complied and inquired into the reasons for the request, and, according to Mundy's testimony, Mundy responded, "You need to come with me, and we'll talk about it." Joint Appendix ("JA") 351. Hampton put his hand on Medina's arm and the agents escorted Medina into the surveillance residence. The officers patted down Medina as soon as they entered the house, and Hampton testified that either he or Mundy likely had a hold of Medina's arms as they walked him up the stairs of the residence. The residence was vacant and contained no furnishings other than a table and chairs.

After Medina confirmed that he understood English, Mundy read Medina his Miranda rights in English from DEA Form 13A. Medina then stated he did not understand, at which point Mundy read him his rights in Spanish from the same form. Medina stated that he understood the rights as read to him in Spanish. Mundy asked Medina whether he was a United States citizen or had a green card and Medina responded in the negative to both questions.

Mundy left Medina inside with Hampton and met outside with Harry Sommers, a DEA supervising agent. Mundy and Sommers discussed a plan for speaking to Medina and then returned upstairs. Upon their return, Hampton went outside to obtain consent-to-search forms in both English and Spanish. Mundy testified that he and Sommers asked Medina in Spanish whether there were any drugs in the house, to which Medina responded "no." They also asked whether he would object to a search of his house, to which he again responded "no."

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Hampton returned with the consent forms and again departed. According to Mundy's testimony, Mundy asked Medina to read the first line of the English form, and upon concluding that Medina could read English, Mundy instructed Medina to sign the form if he agreed to a search of the residence by the DEA agents. Medina signed the form. Mundy then presented Medina with the Spanish version of the form and explained that it was the same form he had just signed in English. Mundy asked Medina to read the remainder of the form to himself, which Medina appeared to do, and Medina then signed the Spanish form.

After Mundy, Sommers, and Medina emerged from the surveillance residence with the executed consent forms, Hampton handcuffed Medina and led him to his residence. Medina's wife answered the door, and the agents introduced themselves and explained that Medina had consented to the agents' search of the house. The agents asked Medina and his wife to wait in the van in their driveway while the agents searched their house. Later, the agents brought Medina and his family back into their residence, and they watched as the agents searched the living room. Both Mundy and Hampton testified that Medina had ample opportunity to revoke his consent to the search but never indicated a desire to do so. Mundy and Hampton described Medina's demeanor as "arrogant" and "cocky" throughout the search.

The search of Medina's residence uncovered used and unused plastic heat-seal baggies, plastic wrappings covered in duct tape and marked with numbers, two heat sealers, a large digital scale, an unidentified white powder, scraps of paper with Spanish words and lists of numerals written on them, seven cell phones, a blue duffle bag which smelled of ether and contained $48,196 in United States currency bundled with colored rubber bands, and a shoebox containing $2,820 in United States currency and colored rubber bands matching those found on the other bundled currency. Another $2,900 was seized from Medina's person.

After reminding Medina of his Miranda rights, the agents interviewed Medina inside his house regarding items that were found during the search. Medina attempted to explain every item identified by Mundy, and Mundy repeatedly accused him of lying. Medina eventually requested an attorney, and the interview was terminated. Subsequent to the search, Medina was taken into custody by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Medina was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and 18 U.S.C. § 2. The indictment also included a drug trafficking forfeiture charge pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853.

Medina filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his residence and all statements obtained from Medina "related to the search and matters discovered during the search," JA 16, arguing that his consent to the search was not voluntary because of his unfamiliarity with the English language, United States law enforcement procedures, and his rights under the United States Constitution. The district court held a suppression hearing at which Mundy, Hampton, and Medina testified. The district court denied Medina's suppression motion, finding that Medina was not credible in his claimed lack of understanding English, and finding that the Government had met its burden of proving that Medina's consent was voluntary.

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Medina was tried by a jury on November 16-19, 2003. The owner of Medina's residence confirmed that Medina had lived at the address surveilled and searched by the DEA. The Government then called Mundy to testify.

Mundy began his testimony by recounting his experience and training in investigating...

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260 practice notes
  • United States v. Dejournett, CASE NO. 5:13CR513
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • July 29, 2014
    ...to all evidence under Rule 702, including law enforcement agents testifying as experts on drug trafficking, United States v. Lopez-Medina, 461 F.3d 724, 742 (6th Cir. 2006), and has consistently "found police officers' expert testimony admissible where it will aid the jury's understanding o......
  • United States v. Robinson, Nos. 15-4098/4100/4124.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • September 29, 2017
    ...can constitute error in some cases. See United States v. Rios , 830 F.3d 403, 416 (6th Cir. 2016) ; United States v. Lopez-Medina , 461 F.3d 724, 744 (6th Cir. 2006). However, this last argument also fails. Following Sixth Circuit pattern jury instructions, the district court made clear to ......
  • United States v. Christian, No. 17-1799
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 26, 2018
    ...to the verdict obtained.’ " United States v. Kelsor , 665 F.3d 684, 696 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Lopez-Medina , 461 F.3d 724, 741 (6th Cir. 2006) ).2. Enright findingsThe telephone call at issue occurred while Thomas was in jail, after he had been arrested by the police for......
  • United States v. Adams, Nos. 11–5291
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 17, 2013
    ...the jury as to the dual nature of any witness who gives both fact testimony and expert opinion testimony. United States v. Lopez–Medina, 461 F.3d 724, 745 (6th Cir.2006).V. SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE Adams contends that the evidence at trial was insufficient to show that he was “ ‘associat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
260 cases
  • United States v. Dejournett, CASE NO. 5:13CR513
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • July 29, 2014
    ...to all evidence under Rule 702, including law enforcement agents testifying as experts on drug trafficking, United States v. Lopez-Medina, 461 F.3d 724, 742 (6th Cir. 2006), and has consistently "found police officers' expert testimony admissible where it will aid the jury's understanding o......
  • United States v. Robinson, Nos. 15-4098/4100/4124.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • September 29, 2017
    ...can constitute error in some cases. See United States v. Rios , 830 F.3d 403, 416 (6th Cir. 2016) ; United States v. Lopez-Medina , 461 F.3d 724, 744 (6th Cir. 2006). However, this last argument also fails. Following Sixth Circuit pattern jury instructions, the district court made clear to ......
  • United States v. Christian, No. 17-1799
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 26, 2018
    ...to the verdict obtained.’ " United States v. Kelsor , 665 F.3d 684, 696 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Lopez-Medina , 461 F.3d 724, 741 (6th Cir. 2006) ).2. Enright findingsThe telephone call at issue occurred while Thomas was in jail, after he had been arrested by the police for......
  • United States v. Adams, Nos. 11–5291
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 17, 2013
    ...the jury as to the dual nature of any witness who gives both fact testimony and expert opinion testimony. United States v. Lopez–Medina, 461 F.3d 724, 745 (6th Cir.2006).V. SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE Adams contends that the evidence at trial was insufficient to show that he was “ ‘associat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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