United States v. Richardson, 081905 FED8, 04-3472

Docket Nº:04-3472
Party Name:United States of America, Appellee, v. Earnest Jesse Richardson, also known as Ernest Jesse Richardson, also known as Torrence C. Epps, Appellant.
Case Date:August 19, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

United States of America, Appellee,


Earnest Jesse Richardson, also known as Ernest Jesse Richardson, also known as Torrence C. Epps, Appellant.

No. 04-3472

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 19, 2005

Submitted: June 23, 2005

Appeal From the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Before MELLOY, HEANEY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

HEANEY, Circuit Judge.

Earnest Jesse Richardson was convicted following a jury trial on two counts: being a felon in possession of a firearm, and being a drug user or addict in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 103 months imprisonment on each count, to be served concurrently. On appeal, Richardson (1) challenges the district court's decision not to suppress evidence and statements; (2) claims his counsel was ineffective; and (3) claims that his sentence improperly imposed penalties on duplicative counts, pursuant to an unconstitutional guidelines scheme.1 We affirm in part and reverse in part.


On September 18, 2002, at approximately 10:00 a.m., two Minneapolis Police officers, Corporal Francisco Javier Porras and Officer Laura Hanks, were patrolling a neighborhood in North Minneapolis. As the officers drove down Hillside Avenue in their marked squad car, they saw a group of three men, including Richardson, gathered on the corner a block away. When the men saw the squad car, they split up, each walking in a different direction. The officers followed Richardson, who repeatedly looked back at the squad car as he walked up Illion Avenue. He entered the enclosed porch of a residence and knocked on the door. The officers stopped their car across the street from the house, and Officer Hanks partially exited the passenger side of the squad car and called to Richardson over the vehicle. At the time, she was separated from Richardson by the car, street, and sidewalk. Corporal Porras remained in the vehicle.

Officer Hanks asked Richardson if he knew who lived in the house, and Richardson responded that he had not done anything wrong. He then left the porch. Corporal Porras, who was still sitting in the squad car, shouted to Richardson and asked whether he knew the people that lived in the house. Richardson did not respond. Officer Hanks asked Richardson if they could talk to him. Richardson repeated that he had not done anything wrong and then sprinted between the houses into the alley.

Officer Hanks chased Richardson on foot while Corporal Porras followed in the squad car. Porras saw Richardson jump over a chain link fence. While attempting to intercept Richardson, Porras crashed the squad car, which Richardson bolted around. A probation officer in the area, Joseph Longueville, saw Richardson running toward him and moved to intercept him. At this point, Richardson surrendered to the officers, and was placed in the back of the crashed squad car.

Officer Hanks and another officer searched for contraband on the Illion Avenue porch Richardson had entered earlier, as well as in the yard of the residence, but did not find anything. Corporal Porras then searched the area near the yard of 1561 Hillside Avenue, a nearby residence, and found a wallet containing crack cocaine and Richardson's identification, as well as a firearm near the rear steps of the house.

With Richardson in the back of the squad car, the officers drove back to where the items had been recovered to verify the addresses involved in Richardson's attempt to flee. While parked in front of 1561 Hillside Avenue, Richardson allegedly said without prompting that he was responsible for the drugs but not the gun. He had not received a Miranda2 warning at the time. The next day, Richardson met with Sergeant Granroos, who advised Richardson of his Miranda rights. Richardson waived his rights and repeated the statements he had made the previous day, indicating that he was responsible for the drugs, but not the gun.

Charges were filed against Richardson in state court. Richardson claimed that he had been illegally seized prior to his flight from the police, and moved to have the subsequently discovered evidence and statements suppressed. Ronnaye Riggins, the resident of the house whose porch Richardson entered, testified that he was a friend of Richardson's and that Richardson was a frequent guest at the house. On February 4, 2003, the state district court concluded that Richardson was illegally seized during his pre-flight encounter with the police, and granted the defendant's motion to suppress.

On March 11, 2003, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging the defendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S. C. § 922(g)(1), and being a drug user or addict in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 922(g)(3). Richardson again moved to suppress the evidence and statements because he claimed his pre-flight encounter with the police was an illegal seizure. He also argued that the federal court was bound by the state court's determination that he was illegally seized. The magistrate rejected these arguments and recommended denying the motions to suppress; the Report and Recommendation was adopted in its entirety by the district court. Two weeks later, Richardson failed to appear for a mandatory drug test, a condition of his pretrial release. He also failed to appear for his trial on July 21, 2003, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On December 10, 2003, Richardson was apprehended after making a wrong turn down a one-way street in front of a police officer. When he was searched, officers found crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

At trial, Richardson stipulated...

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