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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 11, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DENNIS D. JACKSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on defendant Dennis D. Jackson's motion to suppress all evidence in the case, including evidence seized in a search pursuant to a March 15, 2017, warrant and the “fruit of the poisonous tree” to which that search led (Doc. 54). He claims the warrant and the process of obtaining it was defective in a number of ways-the complaint for the warrant did not contain sufficient facts to justify issuance of the warrant; the warrant was overbroad; the complaint for the warrant was not supported by an affidavit; the complaint states the defendant committed a crime on a future date; the complainant's statement is insufficient to justify seizing handguns; and the complainant's statement contains hearsay, innuendo and inaccuracies. He also claims the warrant is invalid because the complaint is based on information that is inadmissible because it was gathered in a manner that did not comply with state electronic eavesdropping procedural requirements. The Government has responded to the motion (Docs. 61 & 62), and Jackson has replied to that response (Doc. 72).

         I. Background

         In early 2017, while investigating a February 2017 shooting in Harrisburg, Illinois, law enforcement officers, including Illinois State Police Inspector Glenn Rountree, came to believe Jackson was selling methamphetamine from his home at 514 West Poplar Street in Harrisburg. To verify their suspicions about Jackson and methamphetamine, law enforcement conducted three controlled buys of methamphetamine from Jackson at his home using a confidential source (“CS”). The controlled buys were conducted on March 6, 10 and 14, and were recorded by audio and video recording with the consent of the CS. The recordings purport to record Jackson selling various quantities of methamphetamine to the CS.

         The use of an audio and video recording device was orally authorized by the Saline County State's Attorney's Office pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/14-3(q)(1) (2015). That provision allows the State's Attorney, in certain circumstances, to verbally approve the use of eavesdropping devices to record a conversation involving a CS under the direction of law enforcement. The State's Attorney must make a written memorialization of the request to use a device, 720 ILCS 5/14-3(q)(2) (2015), and that written memorialization, along with written approval of the request, must be filed with the circuit clerk by the first business day after the approved recording period expires, 720 ILCS 5/14-3(q)(3)(D) (2015). Under Illinois law, compliance with the memorialization and filing requirement is a prerequisite for admissibility of any part of the recorded or overheard conversation. 720 ILCS 5/14-3(q)(5) (2015). In this case, the Saline County State's Attorney authorizing the use of an eavesdropping device did not memorialize in writing the request for authorization or his approval, and he did not file any relevant documentation with the Saline County Circuit Clerk.

         On March 15, 2017, Rountree presented a complaint (“Complaint”) for a search warrant of Jackson's residence to Saline County Circuit Court Judge Walden Morris (Doc. 61-4). The Complaint stated that the complainant, “on oath (or by affirmation) says that he/she has reasonable grounds to believe that on or about March 6, 2017 to March 16, 2017, in or about 514 West Poplar Street in Harrisburg, Illinois, ” certain drug offenses occurred. It incorporated Exhibit A as support for the complainant's belief in probable cause to believe items used in committing a crime would be found there. The Complaint bore Rountree's signature, and Judge Morris's signature under the statement that the Complaint was signed and sworn to before him on March 15, 2017.

         Exhibit A (Doc. 61-4) contained Rountree's descriptions of the three recorded controlled buys to establish probable cause to believe evidence of a crime would be found in Jackson's home. In support of his request for authorization for a no-knock entry, Rountree set forth his assessment of Jackson's criminal history, gang affiliation, security measures for his criminal organization, and other suspected criminal activity involving weapons. Exhibit A bore Rountree's signature and Judge Morris's signature under the statement that Exhibit A was signed and sworn to before him on March 15, 2017, at 2:36 p.m.

         Judge Morris found that the Complaint along with Exhibit A established probable cause to believe evidence of certain enumerated drug-related crimes would be found in Jackson's home, so he issued the requested warrant on March 15, 2017, at 2:38 p.m. (Doc. 61-5). The warrant, signed by Judge Morris, further stated that Rountree “has subscribed and sworn to a complaint for a search warrant before me.” The warrant authorized the search of Jackson's home for the following items:

Methamphetamine, materials used to package methamphetamine, digital scales, paraphernalia used to injest [sic] methamphetamine, safes used to store methamphetamine, other narcotics including Heroin, U.S. Currency, electronic surveillance equipment, electronic media equipment, notebooks and papers which may contain records pertaining to illicit narcotics transactions, weapons and ammunition.
All other contraband which has been used in the commission of or which constitutes evidence of the Offenses of: Possession and/or Delivery of Methamphetamine and/or Controlled Substance.

         Rountree and other law enforcement officers executed the warrant the following day, March 16, 2017. In the search, they seized various items, including various drugs and four loaded semi-automatic pistols, and arrested Jackson on other arrest warrants for drug charges. Three of the pistols were in a zippered case on the floor of a closet under a water heater; the fourth was in a box of dog treats by an exterior door. Following his arrest, Jackson gave incriminating statements to law enforcement officers.

         Jackson was initially charged in the Saline County Circuit Court with several drug crimes under Illinois law. He was later indicted by a federal grand jury on several drug charges based on the three alleged controlled buys and the drugs seized from his home in the March 16, 2017, search. A superseding indictment increased the quantity of drugs charged in one count, and a second superseding indictment added weapons charges based on the firearms seized from his home in the search. That is the case now before the Court. In the pending motion to suppress, Jackson seeks to suppress all of the evidence seized in the search and all of the evidence to which it led.

         II. Analysis

         Jackson believes the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution provides that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” U.S. Const. amend. IV.

         A defendant who seeks to suppress evidence because it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment bears the burden of making a prima facie showing of illegality. United States v. Randle, 966 F.2d 1209, 1212 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court need not schedule a hearing on the basis of a motion which fails to allege a prima facie showing of illegality and which relies, at best, on vague, conclusory allegations. Id. at 1212; United States v. Rollins, 862 F.2d 1282, 1291 (7th Cir. 1988). A defendant must present “definite, specific, detailed, and nonconjectural” facts that justify relief, and the facts must be material and in dispute before a district court will even grant a suppression hearing. Randle, 966 F.2d at 1212; United States v. Villegas, 388 F.3d 317, 324 (7th Cir. 2004); see United States v. Felix-Felix, 275 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir. 2001) (defendant's “burden to establish the necessity of a hearing by demonstrating that there was a disputed material issue of fact justifying relief”).

         The Court finds it exceedingly difficult to decipher much of what Jackson attempts to argue in the vague statements in his motion, which fails to explain his positions in any detail and cites almost no relevant authority. Nevertheless, the Court has detected the outlines of some arguments and will address in turn. Other arguments not detected by the Court have been waived because they are “underdeveloped, conclusory, or unsupported by law.” Puffer v. Allstate Ins. Co., 675 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2012); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 397 (7th Cir. 2000); Perry v. Sullivan, 207 F.3d 379, 382 (7th Cir. 2000).

         For the following reasons, the Court finds Jackson has not established a prima facie showing of illegality and is not entitled to a hearing or suppression of evidence

         A. Probable Cause

         In his motion, Jackson states generally that “the complaint for the warrant does not state facts which should have given rise to the issuance of a warrant.” Def.'s Mot. Suppress 1. The Court construes this to be challenging whether there was probable cause for the warrant to issue.

         There is probable cause for a search warrant where there is a substantial basis for concluding that a search would uncover evidence of wrongdoing. Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 236 (1983). The Gates Court went on to say:

[W]e reaffirm the totality-of-the-circumstances analysis that traditionally has informed probable cause determinations. . . . The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the “veracity” and “basis of knowledge” of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. And the duty of a reviewing court is simply to ensure that the magistrate had a “substantial basis for . . . conclud[ing]” that probable cause existed.

Id. at 239-40 (citations omitted). A court should give great deference to the issuing judge's decision and should affirm a determination of probable cause unless the judge was clearly in error. Gates, 462 U.S. at 236; United States v. Walker, 237 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, a court should resolve doubtful cases in favor of ...


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