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United States v. Sanchez

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 17, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Joel Rafael Sanchez, Defendant.

LeeAnn K. Bell, Esq., Assistant United States Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, for Plaintiff.

Douglas Olson, Esq., Assistant Federal Defender, Minneapolis, MN, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Joel Rafael Sanchez's Objections [Docket No. 36] ("Obj.") to Magistrate Judge Jeffrey J. Keyes's March 28, 2014 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 33] ("R&R"). In the R&R, Judge Keyes recommends denying: (1) Sanchez's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure [Docket No. 27]; and (2) his Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers [Docket No. 28]. After a de novo review of the record, and for the reasons stated below, Sanchez's Objections are overruled and Judge Keyes's R&R is adopted.

II. BACKGROUND

Minneapolis Police Officer Nicholas J. Wasche and his patrol partner were on routine patrol duty in south Minneapolis at 4:00 a.m. on September 26, 2013, when they observed Defendant Joel Rafael Sanchez drive into an alley without signaling the turn. Obj. at 2. The officers followed the vehicle into the alley, where the vehicle stopped in a parking area behind a multi-unit residence. The vehicle was protruding into the alley and was blocking two cars that were parked in the lot. Id.

When asked for identification and insurance documents, Sanchez informed Officer Wasche that he did not have a driver's license and that he had been recently ticketed for driving without a valid license. Id . Sanchez was also unable to produce proof of insurance on the vehicle. Id . A records check confirmed that Sanchez's license was revoked and that Sanchez had several instances of failing to appear for recent driving violations. Id . Based on Sanchez's history of driving violations and failures to appear for driving citations, Wasche chose to arrest and detain him instead of issuing a citation. Id . The officers handcuffed Sanchez and placed him in the back of the squad car, without a Miranda warning. Id.

Officer Wasche then decided to tow the vehicle because it was partially in the alley and blocking two other vehicles, and because Sanchez was unable to move the car due to his lack of a valid driver's license and proof of insurance. Id. at 3. Prior to towing the car, an officer performed an inventory search of the vehicle. Id . Sanchez was asked whether there was anything of value in the car, to which he responded that there was expensive stereo equipment in the trunk. The officers opened the trunk and observed two handguns. Id.

While transporting Sanchez to the jail for booking, Officer Wasche and Sanchez engaged in conversation, during which Wasche asked Sanchez about "what was going on out in the streets." Id . Later in the conversation, Sanchez stated something to the effect of: "If I had known my guns were in the trunk, I would have walked." Id.

Sanchez is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. He has moved to suppress the handguns found in the inventory search. He argues the search resulted from arbitrary and unreasonable decisions by Officer Wasche to arrest him rather than giving him a citation, and to tow the car. Sanchez has also moved to suppress the statement made in the squad car, arguing Wasche should have known the discussion about "what was going on out in the streets" was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Judge Keyes heard argument and testimony on the motions and issued an R&R recommending denial of both motions. Sanchez objects to the recommended denial of the motions, and requests suppression of the physical evidence and his custodial statement.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(C); see also D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). A district judge "may accept, reject, or modify, in ...


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