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United States v. Gist

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 5, 2019

UNITED STATES,
v.
LAMORRIS D. GIST, JR., Defendant.

          ORDER

          CHARLES RONALD NORGLE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Defendant's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence [24] is denied.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Defendant Lamorris Gist has filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence in relation to a vehicle traffic stop and subsequent search that took place on August 11, 2018. Defendant was a passenger in that car at the time of the stop and search. The search allegedly revealed that Defendant was carrying a plastic bag in his pocket with 30 .45 caliber rounds, one 9 mm round, and one .22 caliber round. Defendant was later indicted for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1) (possession of a firearm by a felon).

         Defendant filed the instant motion on April 24, 2019, and it was fully briefed as of June 18, 2019. The Court has deferred ruling on the motion since that time to allow defense counsel to attempt to locate and serve a subpoena on the driver of the vehicle-Maurice House, who is also Defendant's stepbrother. Defendant has been unable to locate House.[1] For the following reasons, the Court now denies the motion.

         I. Background

         Defense counsel's and the Government's recounting of the relevant factual circumstances are largely consistent based on those facts presented to the Court that are specific, detailed, and nonconjectural. The only inconsistencies are immaterial to the determination of this motion (a point discussed further below).

         On August 11, 2018, at approximately 9:45 p.m., Defendant was in the backseat of a grey Infiniti that was traveling on westbound 1-90. Affidavit of Def., ¶ 4. The vehicle and its passengers were returning to Chicago from Indiana, where they had spent several days visiting the driver House's stepfather. Id. The car was pulled over by police, who indicated in reports that they had "paced" the car (that is, accelerated their car to the same speed as the target car and then checked the speedometer in the police car in order to determine the target car's speed). Gov't Br. 2.[2] Based on this pacing technique, police indicated that the Infiniti was traveling at 73 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone. Id. Dash camera footage also shows the Infiniti changing lanes at a high rate of speed. Gov't Br. 6. Defendant, in an affidavit submitted in support of this motion, states the following with respect to the vehicle's speed:

6. Your Affiant [Defendant] further states that the Grey Infinity [sic] in which he was a passenger was traveling at the same rate of speed as the rest of the traffic on Westbound on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Affidavit of Def., ¶ 6. After pacing the vehicle at 73 miles per hour and observing it rapidly change lanes, Illinois State Trooper Vincent Martinez pulled the car over. Martinez approached the car on the passenger side and "immediately smelted the distinct odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle." Gov't Br. 2. He then returned to his squad to run checks on the individuals in the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, as Martinez was performing routine traffic inquiries on the driver and occupants, additional Illinois State Police troopers arrived on the scene. Id.

         At that point, Martinez asked the other troopers to get House (the driver) out of the car and bring him to Martinez's squad car. Id. Martinez informed House that he was giving him a warning, and asked him about where they were coming from and other similar questions. The following exchange then occurred:

Trooper Martinez: Listen, we're part of a criminal interdiction team, okay, we're out here because of all the highway shootings and all that, you know, trying to get guns and drugs off the street. You got nothing illegal in that car, correct?
Driver: No.
Trooper Martinez: No. guns, no drugs?
Driver: No.
Trooper Martinez: You guys smoking a little bit earlier?
Driver: Yes.
Trooper Martinez: Ok. 'cause I can smell it in the car...
Driver: Yeah.
Trooper Martinez: ... a little bit. Alright? Not a big deal, alright? Not out here to, just a little bit in the car, I don't care. Alright? Like I said, we're not out here for, for grams. Alright? We're out here for ...

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