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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

June 26, 2018




         Defendant Bruce Garcia has filed a motion to suppress evidence in his upcoming probation revocation hearing. (DE # 68.) For the reasons identified below, defendant's motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In March 2017, after his arrest and indictment for possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, defendant was released on bond. (DE # 8.) In April 2017, defendant entered into a plea agreement with the government. (DE # 15.) This court accepted defendant's plea and sentenced him to a two-year term of probation (including a 12-month term of home detention) and payment of a $100 special assessment. (DE # 54.)

         On March 22, 2018, while defendant was serving his term of probation, several East Chicago police officers knocked on his door and demanded entrance to his home. (DE # 68-1 at 1.) When defendant refused them entry, the officers used a battering ram to gain admission to his home. (Id.) The officers then conducted a warrantless search of defendant's apartment. (Id.) During the course of the search, the officers discovered firearms and ammunition in defendant's bedroom.

         On March 23, 2018, defendant's probation officer advised this court that defendant had violated the terms of his supervised release. Specifically, defendant's probation officer believes defendant violated the requirements that defendant not commit any further federal, state, or local crimes while on probation, and not own, possess, or control a firearm, ammunition, or other dangerous weapon while on probation. (DE # 57.) Defendant was arrested and awaits his final revocation hearing.

         Defendant now moves to suppress evidence of the firearms and ammunition collected, arguing that such evidence was discovered during the course of an illegal search. (DE # 68-1 at 1.) The government opposes the motion, arguing: (1) the exclusionary rule does not apply to probation revocation proceedings; (2) defendant's motion lacks evidentiary support; (3) defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because he had been evicted from his apartment; and (4) the officers who searched defendant's home were acting pursuant to their community care-taking function and thus did not perform a Fourth Amendment search. (DE # 71.) However, because this court finds that the exclusionary rule does not apply to defendant's probation revocation hearing, the court need not consider the constitutionality of the search itself.


         “The Fourth Amendment protects the ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.' The Amendment says nothing about suppressing evidence obtained in violation of this command. That rule-the exclusionary rule-is a ‘prudential' doctrine, created by this Court to ‘compel respect for the constitutional guaranty.'” Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 236 (2011) (internal citations omitted). “Exclusion is ‘not a personal constitutional right,' nor is it designed to ‘redress the injury' occasioned by an unconstitutional search. The rule's sole purpose, we have repeatedly held, is to deter future Fourth Amendment violations.” Id. at 237.

         Exclusion is only appropriate “where it ‘result[s] in appreciable deterrence.'” Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 142 (2009) (internal citation omitted). “We have never suggested that the exclusionary rule must apply in every circumstance in which it might provide marginal deterrence.” Pennsylvania Bd. of Prob. & Parole v. Scott, 524 U.S. 357, 368 (1998). “Suppression of evidence . . . has always been our last resort, not our first impulse.” Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 591 (2006). In determining whether evidence should be excluded, courts must focus on: (1) “the efficacy of the rule in deterring Fourth Amendment violations in the future;” and (2) whether the benefits of deterrence outweigh the substantial social cost of exclusion, i.e. “letting guilty and possibly dangerous defendants go free . . .” Herring, 555 U.S. at 141.


         Defendant does not cite a single case or other legal authority in support of his motion to suppress. The only case he does cite is Pennsylvania Bd. of Prob. & Parole v. Scott, 524 U.S. 357 (1998), which he attempts to distinguish. For the reasons explained below, the holding in Scott applies to this case, and thus defendant may not use the exclusionary rule to preclude admission of the evidence discovered during the search of his home.

         In Scott, the Supreme Court considered whether the exclusionary rule applies in parole revocation hearings. Id. at 359. There, the defendant argued that weapons discovered in his home - and subsequently used to revoke his parole - were the product of an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment and therefore could not be used against him during the revocation hearing. Id. at 361. The Supreme Court began its analysis by noting that it has “repeatedly declined to extend the exclusionary rule to proceedings other than criminal trials[.]” Id. at 363. For example, the Court has declined to extend the rule to grand jury proceedings, civil tax proceedings, or civil deportation proceedings. Id. Turning to the merits of the case before it, the Court once again declined the invitation to extend the operation of the rule, for three reasons.

         First, “[a]pplication of the exclusionary rule would both hinder the functioning of state parole systems and alter the traditionally flexible, administrative nature of parole revocation proceedings.” Id. at 364. Because parole revocation deprives a parolee of only conditional liberty, “States have wide latitude under the Constitution to structure parole revocation proceedings, ” and most States have opted for informal, administrative parole revocation procedures. Id. at 365-66. The Court found that application of the exclusionary rule would significantly alter the informal process most States have adopted, by introducing extensive litigation regarding the exclusion of evidence at the hearing. “Although States could adapt their parole revocation proceedings to accommodate such litigation, such a change would transform those proceedings from a ...

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