US v. Martin Jenkin


UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 1:14-cr-00049-JKB-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. [999992649].. [16-4118]

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Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 1 of 11 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 16-4118 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff – Appellee, v. MARTIN LOUIS JENKINS, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. James K. Bredar, District Judge. (1:14-cr-00049-JKB-1) Submitted: November 30, 2016 Decided: December 22, 2016 Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and NIEMEYER and THACKER, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, Baltimore, Maryland, Meghan Skelton, Appellate Attorney, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, P. Michael Cunningham, Assistant United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 2 of 11 PER CURIAM: Martin Louis Jenkins was convicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (2012), and received a sentence of 84 months of imprisonment, which was above the Sentencing Guidelines range. Jenkins argues that the district court erred On appeal, in denying his motion to suppress the firearm found in his fiancée’s residence and that his unreasonable. sentence is procedurally and substantively Finding no error, we affirm. I Jenkins argues that the United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), good-faith exception does not apply to this case because the affidavit in support of the search warrant was “bare bones” and did not provide adequate supporting particularized facts and therefore it was objectively unreasonable for officers to rely on the warrant because it was devoid of any indicia of probable cause. Jenkins argues that the nexus between his fiancée’s residence (“target residence”), where the firearm was found, and the evidence conclusory sought by statements. police Thus, was based insufficient on assumptions evidence and connected him to the target residence. “We review factual findings regarding [a] motion suppress for clear error and legal conclusions de novo.” States v. Williams, 740 F.3d 308, 311 (4th Cir. 2014). 2 to United When the Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 3 of 11 district court has denied the motion, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the government. United States v. Grossman, 400 F.3d 212, 216 (4th Cir. 2005). In cases where a defendant challenges both probable cause and the applicability of the good-faith exception, a court may proceed directly to the good-faith analysis without first deciding whether the warrant was supported by probable cause. 240, 243 (4th Cir. 1994). United States v. Legg, 18 F.3d Here, because it was objectively reasonable for the officers to rely on the warrant, we conclude the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement applies. The which Fourth Amendment protects provides, cause, that to the individuals “no supported from Warrants by Oath United shall or States Constitution, “unreasonable issue, but affirmation, searches,” upon and probable particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. To deter future police misconduct, evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment is generally barred from trial under the exclusionary rule. United States v. Andrews, 577 F.3d 231, 235 (4th Cir. 2009). However, “[u]nder requirement, the evidence good[-]faith obtained exception from an to the warrant invalidated search warrant will be suppressed only if the officers were dishonest or reckless in preparing their affidavit or could not have harbored an objectively reasonable belief in the existence of 3 Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 probable cause.” Pg: 4 of 11 United States v. Lalor, 996 F.2d 1578, 1583 (4th Cir. 1993) (quoting Leon, 468 U.S. at 926). Our case law establishes four situations in which an officer’s reliance on a search warrant would not be considered reasonable: (1) (2) (3) (4) the magistrate was misled by information in an affidavit that the officer knew was false or would have known was false except for the officer’s reckless disregard of the truth; the magistrate wholly abandoned his detached and neutral judicial role; the warrant was based on an affidavit that was so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable; and the warrant was so facially deficient, by failing to particularize the place to be searched or the things to be seized, that the executing officers cannot reasonably presume it to be valid. United States v. Hyppolite, 65 F.3d 1151, 1156 (4th Cir. 1995) (citing Leon, 468 U.S. at 923). Under any of those circumstances, the good-faith exception does not apply, and any evidence gathered pursuant excluded from trial. to the deficient warrant must be Andrews, 577 F.3d at 236. On appeal, Jenkins asserts that the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement does not apply because the search warrant affidavit was so lacking in probable cause as to render reliance on it entirely unreasonable; and, further, the state court judge abandoned her neutral role and merely rubber stamped the warrant. Jenkins alleges that it was unreasonable for the 4 Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 5 of 11 officers to rely upon the warrant because the search warrant affidavit allegedly failed to provide a sufficient nexus to establish probable cause that evidence of drug trafficking could be found inside the target residence. An officer’s unreasonable even reliance if the on a warrant application is fails to not rendered establish a sufficient nexus between a target’s residence and the suspected criminal activity. Lalor, 996 F.2d at 1582. We have applied the good-faith exception to uphold the search of a suspect’s residence “on the basis of (1) evidence of the suspect’s involvement in drug trafficking combined with (2) the reasonable suspicion (whether explicitly articulated by the applying officer or implicitly arrived at by the magistrate judge) that drug traffickers store drug-related evidence in their homes.” United States v. Williams, 548 F.3d 311, 319 (4th Cir. 2008). Even assuming the affidavit failed to provide a sufficient nexus to establish probable cause, we determine that its absence is not so severe so as to preclude reasonable reliance on the warrant. To the contrary, “it is reasonable to suspect that a drug dealer stores drugs in a home to which he owns a key.” Grossman, 400 F.3d at 218. In addition, disagreement among judges as to the existence of probable cause indicates that an officer’s reliance on an affidavit was objectively reasonable. See Lalor, 996 F.2d at 1582 (citing Leon, 468 U.S. at 926). 5 Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Although the Filed: 12/22/2016 district court Pg: 6 of 11 concluded that, if the warrant application were before it in the first instance, it may have found that the affidavit failed to establish probable cause that evidence target related to residence, drug the trafficking state could judge who be found issued the at the warrant determined that the affidavit provided probable cause to search. Given the circumstances, we conclude that it cannot be said that the officers’ reliance on the warrant was entirely unreasonable. Jenkins also argues that the state court judge functioned as a rubber warrant. stamp for the police when she authorized the An issuing official acts as a rubber stamp for police when she approves a “bare bones” affidavit. A “bare bones” affidavit is one that contains “wholly conclusory statements, which lack the facts and circumstances from which a magistrate can independently determine probable cause.” Wilhelm, 80 F.3d 116, 121 (4th Cir. 1996) United States v. (quoting United States v. Laury, 985 F.2d 1293, 1311 n.23 (5th Cir. 1993)). An affidavit is “bare bones” when an affiant merely recites the conclusions of others without corroboration investigation of the facts alleged. or independent See, e.g., Wilhelm, 80 F.3d at 120. However, here there is no basis for concluding that this affidavit was “bare bones.” To the contrary, nonconclusory information supported the affiants’ statements that Jenkins was 6 Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 involved in drug dealing. calls and observations detectives’ statements. Pg: 7 of 11 The affidavit detailed intercepted by officers, which supported the Jenkins used language associated with dealing cocaine and heroin in at least one call, his actions with movements in and out of suspected stash houses were also consistent, in the detectives’ experience, of drug dealing. affidavit with further persons related whose observations behavior was of also Jenkins The associating consistent with drug dealing and verified by intercepted calls pointing to a likely connection to drug trafficking. Once the affidavit established some evidence of drug dealing by Jenkins, the question became whether the information in the affidavit related to the target residence was sufficient to establish that Jenkins lived there, at least periodically. The district court determined that the nexus to the target residence was established by the telephone call with Baltimore Gas and Electric, in which Jenkins identifies his address as the target residence. He further stated during the call that the account holder was his fiancée, a relationship that establishes an inference that Jenkins may reside at that location periodically. Therefore, the affidavit, based upon the affiants’ personal knowledge, is not “wholly magistrate or judge could conclusory,” not 7 have such that independently a neutral determined Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 probable cause. affidavit Pg: 8 of 11 Thus, even assuming the alleged defects in the demonstrate an absence of probable cause, officers’ reliance on the warrant was in good faith. no contention that the officers acted in bad the There is faith or intentionally misinformed the state judge about the facts. It was not objectively unreasonable for the officers to rely on the warrant issued by a neutral and detached judge. not clear error for the district court As such, it was to apply the Leon good-faith exception and deny the motion to suppress. II Next, Jenkins argues that the court imposed a procedurally and substantively unreasonable upward variant sentence. He claims procedural error because the court allegedly dismissed the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range and failed to explain the reason for the extent of the upward variance and that the sentence created an unwarranted sentencing disparity. He further contends that the court placed undue weight on the need for the sentence to provide adequate deterrence, resulting in a sentence that was greater substantively unreasonable. than necessary and therefore The Government counters that the district court carefully and deliberately weighed the sentencing factors and addressed the aspects of Jenkins’ sentence of which Jenkins now complains and that reasonable. 8 the sentence was just and Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 9 of 11 “[A]ny sentence, within or outside of the Guidelines range, as a result of a departure or a variance, must be reviewed by appellate courts for reasonableness discretion standard.” pursuant to an abuse of United States v. Diosdado-Star, 630 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2010); see also Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007); Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 350 (2007). Under this standard, a sentence is reviewed for both procedural and substantive reasonableness. 51. In determining procedural Gall, 552 U.S. at reasonableness, we consider whether the district court properly calculated the defendant’s advisory Guidelines range, gave the parties an opportunity to argue for an § 3553(a) appropriate (2012) factors, selected sentence. In selected sentence, evaluating sentence, and considered sufficiently the 18 U.S.C. explained the Id. at 49-51. a sentencing this court court’s explanation consistently has held of a that, although the district court must consider the statutory factors and explain the sentence, “it need not robotically tick through the § 3553(a) factors.” United States v. Helton, 782 F.3d 148, 153 (4th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). same time, the district court “must make assessment based on the facts presented.” an At the individualized Gall, 552 U.S. at 50. While the “individualized assessment need not be elaborate or lengthy, . . . it must provide 9 a rationale tailored to the Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 particular Filed: 12/22/2016 case at appellate review.” hand Pg: 10 of 11 and adequate to permit meaningful United States v. Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). If a sentence is free of “significant procedural error,” then the court “tak[ing] into reviews account it the Gall, 552 U.S. at 51. for substantive totality of the reasonableness, circumstances.” A substantively reasonable sentence is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes [of sentencing].” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). The fact that the court strongly emphasized the need for specific deterrence and the need to protect the public as sentencing factors does not render the sentence unreasonable. See United States v. Pauley, 511 F.3d 468, 476 (4th Cir. 2007) (“In Gall, the Supreme Court held it quite reasonable for the sentencing factor . court . omitted)). extensive . to .” have (internal Moreover, upward this court. attached quotation Jenkins’ variances great sentence found weight marks is to and similar substantively a single alteration to other reasonable by See, e.g., United States v. Hargrove, 701 F.3d 156, 163-65 (4th Cir. 2012) (finding no substantive error in 60-month sentence imposed from Guidelines range of 0 to 6 months, given court’s “thorough individualized assessment” under § 3553(a) and extent and cruelty of dogfighting offense); United States v. Rivera Santana, 668 F.3d 95, 106 (4th Cir. 2012) (holding 2010 Appeal: 16-4118 Doc: 38 Filed: 12/22/2016 Pg: 11 of 11 year statutory maximum sentence, above Guidelines range of 57 to 71 months, was substantively reasonable considering defendant’s egregious criminal history, and where “decision to vary upward to the statutory maximum reflects a thorough, individualized assessment of [defendant’s] situation, in light of the § 3553(a) factors”). We conclude substantively that the reasonable. sentence The court is procedurally properly calculated and the Guidelines range, carefully considered the § 3553(a) factors, considered the arguments presented at sentencing, and adequately explained its reasons 84-month sentence. for varying upward and imposing an We further conclude that Jenkins’ sentence is substantively reasonable. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED 11

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