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United States v. Gholston

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

August 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JACQUES GHOLSTON, Defendant.

          OPINION

          Richard Mills United States District Judge.

         Defendant Jacques Gholston has filed a motion to suppress.

         The motion to suppress was referred to the magistrate judge for a hearing and Report and Recommendation.

         In the Report and Recommendation, United States Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins recommends that the motion to suppress be denied.

         The Defendant has filed objections to the Report and Recommendation.

         The Court has reviewed the record, including the transcript of the motion hearing before Judge Schanzle-Haskins.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 29, 2018, Quincy, Illinois Police Officer Erik Cowick arrested Defendant Jacques Gholston when he and other officers found methamphetamine in a truck following a traffic stop of the Defendant. On July 10, 2018, the Defendant was charged by Indictment with one count of possession of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine (actual), with intent to distribute, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B).

         On September 18, 2018, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress. On March 25 and 26, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion. A transcript of the hearing was filed and the parties have submitted post-hearing memoranda.

         In the Report and Recommendation, the magistrate judge found that “Officer Cowick may have extended the stop for a minute or two beyond the time needed to conduct the traffic stop.” Doc. No. 27, at 17. He then noted the Court “does not need to decide whether Officer Cowick unreasonably delayed completing the traffic stop because Officer Cowick had reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts that Gholston was distributing methamphetamine from the Truck.” Id. at 18. Accordingly, the magistrate judge found that Officer Cowick had a proper basis to detain the Defendant until Deputy Saalborn arrived and the K-9 alerted on the Truck.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), the Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.”

         The Court notes that Defendant does not object to the summary of facts contained in the Report and Recommendation. Accordingly, the Court will only recite those facts that are pertinent to its conclusion.

         II. DISCUSSION

         What begins as a lawful traffic stop might violate the Fourth Amendment if the officer exceeds the scope or unreasonably prolongs the stop. See United States v. Lewis, 920 F.3d 483, 491 (7th Cir. 2019). “A traffic stop ‘can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a warning ticket.'” Id. (quoting Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1614-15 (2005)). A dog sniff of a vehicle's exterior only for illegal drugs does not violate an individual's Fourth Amendment rights, even when there is no reasonable suspicion of drugs. See Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 410 (2005). However, such a stop becomes ...


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