United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Johnson's amended motion to
suppress evidence, ECF No. 15. Johnson challenges the
probable cause supporting a warrant issued to search his
trailer, and also seeks a hearing under Franks v.
Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978). For the following
reasons, the motion is DENIED. Johnson's prior motion to
suppress, ECF No. 14, is MOOT.
September 29, 2014, a warrant issued to search Johnson's
mobile home trailer in East Moline, Illinois. Warrant, Am.
Mot. Suppress, ECF No. 15-1. The warrant was supported by the
affidavit of Village of Hampton police officer Devin McNeill.
See McNeill Aff, Am. Mot. Suppress, ECF No. 15-1. He
related the following facts in support of his application for
September 27, 2014, McNeill saw Johnson and another man,
Dakota Johnson, standing outside of a mobile home trailer
parked at the Village of Rapids City Village Hall. The
trailer had Illinois plates and was registered to Robert
Johnson. McNeill also at some point saw the Johnsons in the
bed of the truck that the trailer attached to, and in the
truck itself. Later, he saw the Johnsons leave the trailer in
a Chevy Cavalier, with Dakota driving. McNeill then stopped
the men (Dakota's license was suspended), and
"removed" Dakota from the car. Smelling the
telltale scent of burnt cannabis inside, McNeill searched the
car. He found a glass pipe, a plastic baggie containing about
18 grams of marijuana, a corn cob pipe, 11 baggies, 11 latex
gloves, small amounts of methamphetamine, more small baggies,
a loaded handgun, and ammunition for the gun.
Johnson told McNeill that he "currently had multiple
narcotics pipes inside the trailer" that Robert had been
standing next to earlier. He also told McNeill that both the
pipes found in the search of the Cavalier belonged to him.
McNeill ran a criminal history check on Robert and found that
he had "a prior delivery/manufacturing of cannabis
charge dating from 2005 as well as Felony Burglary
convictions." Dakota separately admitted to having
bought the gun in Rock Island, Illinois for protection while
makes two arguments: first, that the search warrant was
unsupported by probable cause, requiring the fruits of the
search to be suppressed, Am. Mot. Suppress 4-10; and second,
that because Officer McNeill's affidavit contained a
false statement and a material omission, Johnson is entitled
to a Franks hearing, at which the Court should set
aside the false material and add back in the missing
material, then determine whether the warrant should have
issued, id. at 10-13. Johnson also argues that in
either case, the "good faith exception, " which
allows police to rely on a facially valid but
unconstitutional warrant, does not apply. Id. at
13-15. The government responds that the affidavit presented
probable cause sufficient to justify the warrant, Resp. 9-10,
ECF No. 17; and that Johnson has presented insufficient
evidence for a Franks hearing, id. at
10-13. If Johnson's first argument succeeds, he is
entitled to suppression and there is no need to address
whether the Court must hold a Franks hearing.
However, because the affidavit provided enough support for a
warrant, the Court will first explain why, and then discuss
whether Johnson is entitled to & Franks hearing.
Facial Sufficiency of Affidavit to Support Warrant
Constitution secures "the right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const, amend.
IV. Warrants cannot issue without a judicial determination of
probable cause. Id. When reviewing a warrant-issuing
judge's determination that probable cause existed, a
reviewing court defers to that judge's determination if
"there is substantial evidence in the record supporting
the judge's decision." United States v.
Lloyd, 71 F.3d 1256, 1262 (7th Cir. 1995). Any factual
determinations made by the warrant-issuing judge are reviewed
for clear error, and review of conclusions of law-most
particularly, whether probable cause existed to justify
issuance of a warrant-is de novo. United States v.
Koerth, 312 F.3d 862, 865 (7th Cir. 2002).
warrant affidavit stands on its own: the information
supporting the warrant must be found within the "four
corners of a written affidavit" presented to the judge
(assuming she was presented with no other evidence in support
of the warrant). United States v. Anderson, 453 F.2d
174, 175 (1971). The task of the issuing judge is then to
make a "common-sense decision whether, given all the
circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, there is
a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime
will be found in a particular place." Illinois v.
Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 214 (1983).
as a whole, the affidavit in Johnson's case presented
probable cause. The affidavit stated that officers discovered
physical evidence of drug use and distribution: two pipes,
many plastic baggies and gloves, drug residue, and a gun and
ammunition. It stated that Dakota admitted that the gun was
used in drug distribution. It stated that Robert admitted
ownership of the pipes in the car, and told Officer McNeill
where more-specifically, more "narcotics
pipes"-were to be found. And it stated that Robert was
the registered owner of the trailer and had been seen in and
on the truck attached to it a short time earlier. Thus, the
affidavit presented 1) evidence of drug distribution in the
car, 2) evidence that the men in the car with the drugs knew
each other, and that each possessed some of the contraband in
the car, and, most importantly, 3) a direct admission by
Robert that contraband was to be found in the trailer, which
he owned and had recently been near. This information was
more than sufficient ground upon which to base a probable
argues, incorrectly, that there was no nexus between the
trailer and the drug equipment found in the Cavalier. Am.
Mot. Suppress 9-10. But this case is distinguishable from
United States v. Ramos, 923 F.2d 1346 (9th Cir.
1991), overruled on other grounds by United States v.
Ruiz, 257 F.3d 1030 (9th Cir. 2001), upon which Johnson
relies. There, the appellate court found that police had
lacked probable cause to search a defendant's apartment,
at which he had stopped after making a suspected drug
delivery, but which officers had no other reason to believe
would contain drugs. 923 F.2d at 1352. Here, the officers had
reason to believe contraband would be found in Johnson's
trailer because 1) Johnson told them it would be, and 2)
Johnson was found in a car with evidence of drug distribution
immediately after having left the trailer, which he owned.
While the former reason is plainly stronger, the latter is
also more compelling than the one that the Ninth Circuit
rejected in Ramos. That is, there is more reason to
believe that contraband will be found in a trailer when a
person has just departed from the trailer, which he owns, in
a car full of drug dealing equipment, than there is to
believe that contraband will be found in an apartment when a
person has briefly stopped there after making a suspected
drug delivery somewhere else. Furthermore, the two reasons in
Johnson's case reinforce each other. His admission that
drug paraphernalia would be found in the trailer is
consistent with and supports the inference that more
contraband of the same kind the police had just seized would
be found in the trailer. Conversely, the two pipes Johnson
had just claimed, as well as the gun, gloves, bags, and drugs
that he had not claimed, make credible his claim that more
narcotics pipes were to be found in his trailer.
case, Johnson's admission would have been sufficient on
its own. See United States v. Harris,403 U.S. 573,
583 (1971) ("Admissions of crime, like admissions
against proprietary interests, carry their own indicia of
credibility-sufficient at least to support a finding of
probable cause to search."). The affidavit supported the
warrant, and ...