U.S. v. Workcuff

Decision Date31 January 2003
Docket NumberNo. 020018901CRWODS.,020018901CRWODS.
Citation250 F.Supp.2d 1160
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Montonio L. WORKCUFF, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri

Patrick William Peters, Peters Moore & Jones LLC, Kansas City, MO, for Montonio L Workcuff.

ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SMITH, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are (1) Defendant's Objections to the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge1 Respecting Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. # 64), and (2) the Government's Objections to the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate (Doc. #66). For the following reasons; the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation ("Report") of the United States Magistrate Judge as the Order of the Court (see attached Exhibit A).

I. BACKGROUND

Having reviewed the record de novo, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's findings of fact. For the sake of clarity, the Court will simply highlight certain facts relevant to its discussion.

On May 28, 2002, Defendant Montonio L. Workcuff's residence was searched and materials were seized. The search warrant was issued by a Judge of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The warrant was based on an Affidavit of Detective Anthony Cooper, who was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") as a Task Force Officer and had acquired information regarding Defendant's selling of drugs from Jarvis J. Henderson ("Henderson"). At the time, Henderson was in federal custody resulting from a multi-count federal drug indictment. As part of his plea agreement with the United States, Henderson agreed to provide assistance to the Government relating to drug dealers. During a phone conversation while in custody, Henderson identified Defendant as his lone source of cocaine in 2001. Henderson told Detective Cooper that Defendant resided in a yellow house on the 3400 block of Garfield, and Defendant owned at least two vehicles, a purple Suburban and a blue Tahoe. According to Henderson, Defendant would have furniture delivered to his house that concealed cocaine and marijuana. Detective Cooper corroborated the information by observing a residence matching the description provided by Henderson. In the driveway, the officers identified a blue sport utility vehicle bearing a license plate that was registered to Defendant. Within the Street Narcotics Unit DRAGNET2 System, Detective Cooper found two complaints of suspected narcotics activity had been reported at Defendant's residence.

When presented with the information about Defendant, Detective Cooper first consulted with an Assistant United States Attorney rather than a Jackson County Prosecutor. Detective Cooper also requested and obtained subpoenas from the United States Attorney's Office to obtain a recording of his phone conversation with Henderson.

Detective Cooper presented his affidavit to a Jackson County Circuit Judge together with a proposed search warrant. Tr. I at 90.3 The search warrant prepared by Detective Cooper declared "entry into the residence may be made without knocking and embanking the presence of law enforcement due to safety concerns enumerated in the affidavit of the search warrant." Tr. I at 110. Detective Cooper admitted he did not know what "embanking" meant, and he also admitted that nothing in his affidavit indicated a risk to officer safety or destruction of evidence. Tr. I at 110-11. The Jackson County Circuit Judge signed the prepared search warrant.

Prior to entering the residence, the officers announced their presence but did not wait for anyone to respond or answer the door. When the search warrant was executed, at least two officers who were assigned to the DEA Regional and Interdiction Task Forces participated in the search.

On September 25, 2002, Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence. In support of his motion, Defendant argued (1) the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment because the officers conducting the search vandalized the residence and a vehicle, which was not listed in the search warrant; (2) the search was without probable cause; (3) the search warrant was a general search warrant; (4) the search was invalid pursuant to section 542.276 of the Missouri Revised Statutes; (5) the search was a no-knock search in violation of federal law; (6) the procedure for searches in Jackson County, Missouri, does not comport with Due Process; (7) the search warrant was not signed by a neutral and detached magistrate; (8) Detective Cooper was not placed under oath by the State; (9) there was a misrepresentation in Detective Cooper's affidavit regarding the license plate number on one of the vehicles; and (10) the Fourth Amendment was violated when a photographer was present during the execution of the search warrant.

In her Report, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the evidence seized in this case be suppressed because the officers improperly conducted a no-knock search. Report & Recommendation 1177. The Magistrate Judge further found: that the destruction of property that occurred during the search was reasonably necessary to effectuate a safe and thorough search and the presence of a photographer during the execution of the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment; the search warrant was signed by a neutral and detached magistrate; there was probable cause for the search warrant, the search warrant was not a general search warrant; there was not a misrepresentation regarding the license plate number; and, the detective was placed under oath when filing his application for the search warrant. Report & Recommendation 1178, 1179-1184. Alternatively, the Magistrate Judge found that even if probable cause did not exist for the warrant or if the items listed in the warrant were too general, the Leon good faith exception would support the admissibility of the evidence because the officers executing the warrant "were acting in `objectively reasonable reliance' on a warrant issued by a neutral judge." Report & Recommendation 1184 (quoting United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 922, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984)).

On January 8, 2003, Defendant filed objections to the Report and Recommendation, and, on January 27, 2003, Defendant filed his response to the Government's objections to the Report and Recommendation. Defendant's objections to the Report and Recommendation and his response to the Government objections reiterate the arguments he presented to the Magistrate Judge. Additionally, Defendant makes a specific request that the District Court determine the credibility of Detective Cooper, and Defendant proposed additional facts that were not contained in the Magistrate Judge's findings of fact.

On January 10, 2003, the Government filed its objections to the Report and Recommendation, and, on January 22, 2003, the Government filed its responses to Defendant's objections to the Report and Recommendation. The Government argues that the manner of entry by the law enforcement officers did not violate Defendant's Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Government further argues that the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation is not supported by the facts in the case, it fails to recognize the current law on the subject and it fails to properly apply the law to the facts in the case. In the Government's response to Defendant's objections to the Report and Recommendation, the Government objects to some of Defendant's proposed additional findings of fact, and the Government objects to Defendant's argument that the District Court should determine the credibility of Detective Cooper.

//. DISCUSSION

"The officer may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house, or any part of a house, or anything therein, to execute a search warrant, if, after notice of his authority and purpose, he is refused admittance..." 18 U.S.C. § 3109 (2000). "Section 3109 applies `[w]hen federal officers are a significant part of a search conducted pursuant to a state warrant.'" United States v. Tavares, 223 F.3d 911, 914 (8th Cir.2000) (quoting United States v. Murphy, 69 F.3d 237, 242 (8th Cir.1995), cert, denied, 516 U.S. 1153, 116 S.Ct. 1032, 134 L.Ed.2d 109 (1996)). When determining if there is significant federal involvement, the Court must look at the efforts to obtain the warrant and the execution of the warrant. Tavares, 223 F.3d at 915 (citations omitted).

Detective Cooper, an officer assigned to the DEA Interdiction Task Force, first received information about Defendant from Jarvis Henderson, a federal prisoner who had agreed to cooperate with the United States Government pursuant to his plea agreement. Detective Cooper, armed with his knowledge about Defendant, contacted the United States Attorney's Office. He further requested subpoenas to be issued from the United States Attorney's office so that the detective could obtain a recording of his conversation with Henderson. When the search warrant was executed, at least two of the officers were assigned to the DEA as Task Force Officers. In fact, during the videotape of search, one officer is seen wearing DEA clothing. The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge and finds that these facts suggest significant federal involvement in the search.

According to section 3109, an officer must first knock and announce his authority and wait until he is refused admittance before he can break down the door. 18 U.S.C. § 3109. The officers who testified at the motion to suppress hearing stated that they did announce their presence, but they did not await an answer before entering the Defendant's house. Officers forced open the door and found the dwelling unoccupied. While the officers' actions are in direct violation of section 3109,...

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  • U.S. v. Scroggins, 03-2279.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 24 March 2004
    ...the existing caselaw suggests that they do possess that authority. See Mack, 117 F.Supp.2d at 942; see also United States v. Workcuff, 250 F.Supp.2d 1160, 1177-78 (W.D.Mo.2003). Scroggins does not expressly challenge the Missouri judge's authority to issue a no-knock warrant. Regardless, th......

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