United States v. Jones

Decision Date01 August 2022
Docket Number20-3009,August Term 2021
Citation43 F.4th 94
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. David Roy JONES, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

For Appellee: Tiffany H. Lee, Assistant United States Attorney, for James P. Kennedy, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY.

For Defendant-Appellant: Jay Ovsiovitch, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Western District of New York, Rochester, NY.

Before: Livingston, Chief Judge, Chin and Nardini, Circuit Judges.

Debra Ann Livingston, Chief Judge:

Defendant-Appellant David Roy Jones ("Jones") appeals from an August 31, 2020 judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Larimer, J. ), convicting him of the knowing production of child pornography and sentencing him to a term of imprisonment of 240 months and a 10-year term of supervised release. Jones pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement but reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of his suppression motion. On appeal, Jones challenges the district court's determinations that (1) his earlier guilty plea in Tennessee state court precludes him from challenging the validity of search warrants issued in Tennessee; and (2) even assuming the warrants are defective, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies.

As explained below, we conclude that the district court erred by precluding Jones from challenging the Tennessee warrants and the use of any evidence derived from those warrants. At the same time, we agree with the district court that even assuming arguendo that the warrants are defective, the exclusionary rule does not apply here. We therefore affirm the district court's judgment.

BACKGROUND
I. Factual Background1
A. The Tennessee Investigation

The Hamblen County, Tennessee Sheriff's Office (the "Sheriff's Office") began investigating Jones in 2016 when it received information that he had taken pornographic photographs of two minors—one 17 years old ("State Victim 1") and the other 15 years old ("State Victim 2"). State Victim 1's mother ("Complainant") alleged that Jones gave the victims alcohol and drugs, took nude pictures of them, and made sexual advances toward them. She also attested that she had seen a text message from Jones in which he requested nude photographs from her daughter.

That same day, the Sheriff's Office received signed statements from each victim describing Jones's behavior. State Victim 1 alleged that Jones gave her and State Victim 2 drugs and alcohol and took nude pictures of them. She also alleged that Jones kept nude pictures of her on his phone. And she alleged that Jones often made sexual remarks, including repeatedly asking to perform oral sex on State Victim 2.

State Victim 2 made similar allegations. She alleged that Jones plied her and State Victim 1 with drugs and alcohol. She also alleged that Jones asked them to pose nude for him on a bed so he could take photographs of them. And she added that Jones often made sexual remarks directed at her, echoing State Victim 1's allegation that Jones asked repeatedly to perform oral sex on her.

Based on these allegations, Detective Sergeant Jim Brooks ("Detective Brooks") sought and obtained six separate warrants ("Tennessee Warrants"). These warrants authorized the Sheriff's Office to seize and search Jones's property for evidence that he sexually exploited a minor in violation of Tennessee law. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1003.

Detective Brooks first sought a warrant to seize Jones's cellular devices. In an affidavit submitted in support of his application for the first warrant, Detective Brooks attested:

[The] listed cellular device[ ] or devices in the possession of David Ray [sic] Jones at [Jones's address] were used to take pictures of minor children. On June 28, 2016[,] [K.B.], the mother of 17 year old minor child [State Victim 1] reported that on or about January 1, 2016 to June 28, 2016[,] David Ray Jones ... did make sexual advances towards her daughter. [K.B.] also stated that David Ray Jones ... got her daughter and her friend [State Victim 2], 15 years old, drunk and high[,] took nude pictures of them, and made sexual advances towards [them].

ECF No. 25-1 at 7.2 Based on his knowledge, training, and experience, Detective Brooks attested that he believed that the devices would "contain evidence of pictures of minor children in different stages of undress." Id. at 8. After Tennessee Criminal Court Judge John Dugger ("Judge Dugger") granted the application, Detective Brooks executed the warrant.

Detective Brooks applied for two more warrants to search Jones's home and vehicles for electronic devices the next day. Detective Brooks submitted similar affidavits in support of the applications for these warrants. Judge Dugger granted the applications, and the Sheriff's Office executed both warrants. Detective Brooks recovered photographs and other electronic devices from Jones's residence.

Detective Brooks later obtained three more warrants that authorized him to search the electronic devices the Sheriff's Office had seized. The final application explained that Detective Brooks had "learned of the existence of a third victim"—Jones's "ex stepdaughter from New York"—and that there was "reason to believe that photos of [her were] stored on the laptop computer, hard drive, and memory cards" the Sheriff's Office had recovered. Id. at 29.

Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Hamblen County Criminal Court in July 2017. Tennessee first charged Jones with possessing more than 50 pornographic images, a Class C felony under Tennessee law that is punishable by three to fifteen years’ imprisonment. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1003(a), (b) ; id. § 40-35-111. But Jones pleaded guilty to possessing fewer than 50 images, a Class D felony punishable by only two to twelve years’ imprisonment. See id. § 39-17-1003(d) ; id. § 40-35-111. Judge Dugger sentenced Jones to serve two years in prison.

B. The Federal Investigation

Federal law enforcement started investigating Jones in 2017 when a different victim ("Federal Victim 1"), who resided in the Western District of New York, contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). Federal Victim 1 alleged that Jones had taken nude pictures of her when she was between 13 and 16 years old. An FBI agent contacted Detective Brooks, who provided two pornographic photographs obtained from Jones's residence through the state investigation. Federal Victim 1 confirmed that the photographs depicted her and alleged that Jones took them when she was about 14 years old.

The FBI obtained two search warrants (the "Federal Warrants"), authorizing it to search electronic devices previously collected by the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office sent the FBI digital copies of three storage cards seized from Jones's residence. Those storage cards contained pornographic pictures and videos of two minors. Federal Victim 1 confirmed that these pictures and videos depicted her and a minor male ("Federal Victim 2"). She claimed that she and Federal Victim 2 took the pictures at Jones's direction and that Jones took the videos.

II. Procedural History

A federal grand jury indicted Jones on two counts of Production of Child Pornography in 2018. See 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a). The government later filed a notice of its intent to use evidence seized under the Tennessee and Federal Warrants. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(4). Jones moved to suppress. He argued that the Tennessee Warrants violated the Fourth Amendment's particularity and probable cause requirements and that the evidence seized under the Federal Warrants was fruit of the poisonous tree.

In a report and recommendation, Magistrate Judge Jonathan Feldman recommended that the district court deny Jones's motion. United States v. Jones (R&R ), 2019 WL 3416737, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101810 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 11, 2019). Relying largely on this Court's decision in United States v. Gregg , 463 F.3d 160 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam), Judge Feldman reasoned that Jones's guilty plea in Tennessee state court "collaterally estopped" him from challenging the constitutional validity of the Tennessee Warrants. Id. at *2-3, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101810 at *5–11. The district court adopted Judge Feldman's recommendation. United States v. Jones , 2019 WL 2511131, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101507 (W.D.N.Y. June 18, 2019). It agreed that "the principle of collateral estoppel" precluded Jones from challenging the validity of the Tennessee Warrants. Id. at *2-3, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101507 at *5–7. In the alternative, the district court held that suppression was unwarranted because the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies. Id. at *3, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101507at *7–8. Jones pleaded guilty to Count Two of the indictment pursuant to a plea agreement but reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress.

DISCUSSION

Jones argues that the district court erred in concluding that (1) his prior guilty plea in Tennessee state court collaterally estops him from challenging the Tennessee Warrants and (2) the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule precludes suppression. We agree with Jones that the district court erred in precluding Jones from challenging the Tennessee Warrants but disagree that exclusion is required here.

I.
A.

We begin with collateral estoppel. "Issue preclusion, also referred to as collateral estoppel,3 bars ‘successive litigation of an issue of fact or law actually litigated and resolved in a valid court determination essential to a prior judgment.’ " Cayuga Nation v. Tanner , 6 F.4th 361, 374 (2d Cir. 2021) (quoting New Hampshire v. Maine , 532 U.S. 742, 748–49, 121 S.Ct. 1808, 149 L.Ed.2d 968 (2001) ); see also 18 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure § 4416 (3d ed. Apr. 2022 update) ; Restatement...

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