U.S. v. Whitehead, Nos. 87-5093

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore MURNAGHAN and SPROUSE; SPROUSE; MURNAGHAN
Citation849 F.2d 849
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Conrad WHITEHEAD, II, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Hector QUESADA, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date18 July 1988
Docket NumberNos. 87-5093,87-5120

Page 849

849 F.2d 849
56 USLW 2697
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Conrad WHITEHEAD, II, Defendant-Appellant.
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Hector QUESADA, Defendant-Appellant.
Nos. 87-5093, 87-5120.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued Jan. 8, 1988.
Decided May 24, 1988.
Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied July 18, 1988.

Page 851

Stephen Jon Cribari, Deputy Federal Public Defender (Fred Warren Bennett, Federal Public Defender, Beth Farber, Asst. Federal Defender, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for defendant-appellant.

Martin S. Himeles, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty., Baltimore, Md. (Breckinridge L. Willcox, U.S. Atty., Baltimore, Md., on brief), for plaintiff-appellee.

Before MURNAGHAN and SPROUSE, Circuit Judges, and YOUNG, United States District Judge for the District of Maryland, sitting by designation.

SPROUSE, Circuit Judge:

This is a consolidated appeal by Conrad Whitehead and Hector Quesada from their convictions on narcotics offenses. Whitehead was convicted after a bench trial of possessing more than 500 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute. 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a). Quesada pled guilty to importation of more than 500 grams of cocaine. 21 U.S.C. Sec. 952(a) (Supp.1984). Both were sentenced to mandatory five-year terms of imprisonment followed by periods of supervised release pursuant to the Narcotics Penalties and Enforcement Act of 1986 and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act Penalties Enhancement Act of 1986 (the Acts). 21 U.S.C.A. Secs. 841(b)(1)(B), 960(b)(2) (West Supp.1987). 1

Whitehead contends that the district court erred in its refusal to suppress evidence of the seizure of his cocaine by the government. The contraband was seized following an allegedly unconstitutional dog sniff of Whitehead's luggage in a passenger-train sleeping compartment. Whitehead maintains that the fourth amendment required the government to obtain a search warrant, or at the least have probable cause, before it could bring narcotics-trained dogs into the compartment. We disagree, and affirm the district court's conclusion that the dog sniff, supported by reasonable suspicion that the luggage contained contraband, did not violate the fourth amendment.

Quesada and Whitehead challenge the constitutionality of the Acts' minimum sentencing provisions. They argue that the provisions offend fifth amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection and the eighth amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. They further assert that the trial court erred in imposing a period of supervised release following their incarceration. 2 We find no merit to the defendants' constitutional arguments, but we vacate their terms of supervised release and remand for the imposition of special parole terms pursuant to 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(b), 960(b) (1982).

I.

A.

The undisputed facts relating to Whitehead's fourth amendment contentions were developed at a suppression hearing before the district court. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on November 26, 1986, ten minutes before the departure of the morning train to New York City, police officers observed a man, later identified as Whitehead, arrive at the Miami, Florida AMTRAK station in a taxi. 3 Emerging from the cab, the officers watched as the man thoroughly scanned the area in front of the station before entering. Then, carrying a sports bag with two tennis rackets partially protruding

Page 852

from it and a piece of Samsonite-type luggage, he walked inside and purchased a one-way, first-class sleeping car ticket to New York. He paid $403 in cash for the ticket. 4

Whitehead's initial scrutiny of the station entrance aroused the police officers' suspicion. It appeared to them that he was checking the area for surveillance. One of the officers questioned the taxi driver and another questioned the ticket agent who sold Whitehead his ticket. The taxi driver said that he picked Whitehead up at the DiLido Hotel. The DiLido is a Miami Beach hotel known to police officers as a common meeting point for drug traffickers. The ticket agent said that Whitehead had verbally identified himself as "W. Tucker" and that his ticket was issued in that name. 5

Two officers then approached Whitehead as he was walking toward the train platform. They identified themselves, and Whitehead consented to speak with them. When asked his name, Whitehead replied "W. Tucker, just like on the ticket." Although the station was air-conditioned, Whitehead broke into a profuse sweat when the officers asked him for further identification. He showed them a pair of military dog-tags around his neck, but stated that he had no other identification. In response to further questioning, Whitehead said that he was from New York and had been in Miami for two days playing tennis with friends and staying at the DiLido Hotel. The officers then informed Whitehead that they were conducting a narcotics investigation, and they asked permission to look into his luggage. Whitehead declined, and without further interruption from the officers, he boarded the train for New York.

The Miami police called AMTRAK police in Washington to inform them of what had transpired and of their suspicions concerning Whitehead. 6 An AMTRAK officer ran a computer search on the name "W. Tucker" and ascertained that no one by that name had travelled by train from New York to Miami. The officer further found that "W. Tucker" had secured his reservation on the Miami-New York train a few hours before its departure. 7

On the following morning, the AMTRAK officer boarded Whitehead's train at the Washington station and questioned one of the porters who serviced the train car in which Whitehead was residing. The porter stated that Whitehead became sick early on in the journey, had eaten little, and had ventured out of his roomette only for very short periods of time. The roomette had a sliding inside lock; it could not be locked from the outside.

Other police officers and narcotics-trained dogs boarded the train at the Baltimore station. The AMTRAK officer, posing as a conductor checking tickets, knocked on Whitehead's compartment door. 8 When Whitehead opened the door, the officer identified himself as a policeman and asked Whitehead's permission to enter the compartment. Whitehead said "yes" and invited him in. 9

Page 853

After stepping inside, the officer informed Whitehead that he was conducting a narcotics investigation, and asked Whitehead for consent to open his luggage, which was visible on the floor of the compartment. Again breaking into a profuse sweat, Whitehead at first declined, but then asked "well, what happens if I don't let you search." The officer responded that he had narcotics-trained dogs readily available to sniff the luggage. Whitehead, in turn, replied "well you go ahead and bring on your dogs." 10 Two dogs were then brought into Whitehead's roomette while he waited outside. They sniffed and alerted on his luggage. 11

The police detained Whitehead while they obtained a warrant to open his luggage. 12 After securing the warrant, they discovered three kilograms of 86.3 percent pure cocaine in his Samsonite-type bag.

The trial court denied Whitehead's suppression motion. Invoking the rationales underlying the "vehicle exception" to the warrant requirement, see generally California v. Carney, 471 U.S. 386, 105 S.Ct. 2066, 85 L.Ed.2d 406 (1985), the court held that "[t]he expectation of privacy of one occupying a roomette ... is substantially less than that of a person occupying a temporary home such as a hotel room." Since the officers reasonably suspected Whitehead of criminal wrongdoing, the court determined that their canine investigation of his roomette did not offend the fourth amendment.

We agree with the trial court's mode of analysis and its finding of reasonable suspicion. We conclude that the brief exposure of the interior of a train compartment to narcotics detection dogs is constitutionally permissible when based on a reasonable, articulable suspicion that luggage within the compartment contains contraband.

B.

Whitehead on appeal concedes, as he must, that the exposure of luggage located in a public place to a trained canine is not a "search" for fourth amendment purposes. 13 United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 103 S.Ct. 2637, 77 L.Ed.2d 110 (1983). He contends, however, that his luggage was not located in a "public place," but in a train compartment that was the functional equivalent of a temporary home similar to a hotel room. See Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483, 490, 84 S.Ct. 889, 893-94, 11 L.Ed.2d 856 (1964) (according full fourth amendment protection to hotel room guests). Based on this reasoning, he argues that the police could not bring their trained canines into his compartment without a warrant, or at the least, probable cause. We disagree. Like the trial court, we reject the contention that a passenger train sleeping compartment is a "temporary home" for fourth amendment purposes. While occupants of train roomettes may properly expect some degree of privacy, it is less than the reasonable expectations that individuals rightfully possess in their homes or their hotel rooms.

i.

In determining the legitimacy or "reasonableness" of a claimed privacy interest, the Supreme Court has given weight to the

Page 854

"intention of the Framers of the Fourth Amendment, e.g., United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 7-8, 97 S.Ct. 2476, 2481, 53 L.Ed.2d 538 (1977), the uses to which the individual has put a location, e.g., Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 265, 80 S.Ct. 725, 733, 4 L.Ed.2d 697 (1960), and our societal understanding that certain areas deserve the most scrupulous protection from government invasion, e.g., Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980)." Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 178, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 1741, 80 L.Ed.2d 214 (1984); see also Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143-44, n. 12,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
127 practice notes
  • USA v. Wellman, Criminal Action No. 1:08-cr-00043.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • June 2, 2010
    ...F.2d 1019 (emphasis added). The adjective “extensive” appears to have been first omitted without discussion in United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.1988) (abrogated on other grounds). However, for reasons stated below, the Court does not address the possible significance o......
  • United States v. Cobler, No. 13–4170.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 11, 2014
    ...(4th Cir.1990) (observing that the Supreme Court “does not require” proportionality review of such sentences); United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.1988) (same); United States v. Guglielmi, 819 F.2d 451, 457 (4th Cir.1987) (same). Before addressing these arguments, we exam......
  • United States v. Beene, No. 14–30476.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 8, 2016
    ...drug detection dogs in all circumstances." 3 W. LAFAVE, SEARCH AND SEIZURE § 2.2(g) (5th ed.2012) ; see also United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 857 (4th Cir.1988) ("Place obviously did not sanction the indiscriminate, blanket use of trained dogs in all contexts."), abrogated on other......
  • U.S. v. McNeese, Nos. 88-1951
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1990
    ...v. Ramos, 861 F.2d 228, 232 (9th Cir.1988); United States v. Brown, 859 Page 607 F.2d 974, 976 (D.C.Cir.1988); United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 534, 102 L.Ed.2d 566 (1988); United States v. Murillo-Guzman, 845 F.2d 314, 315 (11......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
127 cases
  • USA v. Wellman, Criminal Action No. 1:08-cr-00043.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • June 2, 2010
    ...F.2d 1019 (emphasis added). The adjective “extensive” appears to have been first omitted without discussion in United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.1988) (abrogated on other grounds). However, for reasons stated below, the Court does not address the possible significance o......
  • United States v. Cobler, No. 13–4170.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 11, 2014
    ...(4th Cir.1990) (observing that the Supreme Court “does not require” proportionality review of such sentences); United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.1988) (same); United States v. Guglielmi, 819 F.2d 451, 457 (4th Cir.1987) (same). Before addressing these arguments, we exam......
  • United States v. Beene, No. 14–30476.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 8, 2016
    ...drug detection dogs in all circumstances." 3 W. LAFAVE, SEARCH AND SEIZURE § 2.2(g) (5th ed.2012) ; see also United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 857 (4th Cir.1988) ("Place obviously did not sanction the indiscriminate, blanket use of trained dogs in all contexts."), abrogated on other......
  • U.S. v. McNeese, Nos. 88-1951
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1990
    ...v. Ramos, 861 F.2d 228, 232 (9th Cir.1988); United States v. Brown, 859 Page 607 F.2d 974, 976 (D.C.Cir.1988); United States v. Whitehead, 849 F.2d 849, 860 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 534, 102 L.Ed.2d 566 (1988); United States v. Murillo-Guzman, 845 F.2d 314, 315 (11......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT