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United States v. Washington

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

December 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE
v.
THOMAS M. WASHINGTON, APPELLANT

Argued: November 14, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:11-cr-00105-1).

Tony Axam, Jr., Assistant Federal Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs was A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defender. Lara G. Quint, Assistant Federal Public Defender, entered an appearance.

Chrisellen R. Kolb, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. On the brief were Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, John P. Mannarino, and Peter S. Smith, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Before: GARLAND, Chief Judge, WILKINS, Circuit Judge, and WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge.

OPINION

Page 406

Williams, Senior Circuit Judge:

Following a jury trial, Thomas Washington was convicted of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute cannabis, and various firearms offenses. On appeal, Washington argues that the district court erred in denying his pretrial motion to suppress evidence because the government's search-warrant affidavit did not establish probable cause to search his residence. We agree with the district court that, even if the affidavit was inadequate to support a search warrant, this case falls within the good-faith exception of United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984). We therefore affirm.

* * *

On September 26, 2009, Officer Jordan D. Katz of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department applied for a warrant to search the residence at 3025 Yost Place, Northeast, in Washington D.C. In his affidavit in support of the application, Officer Katz stated that within the past 72 hours he had spoken to a confidential informant who had been used on over 100 occasions and had never provided police officers with false information. The informant told Officer Katz that a friend, labeled the " unwitting informant," had asked the confidential informant to accompany him or her to 3025 Yost Place to purchase crack cocaine from an individual named " Tom." After arriving at the location, the confidential informant broke away from the unwitting informant to conceal himself or herself. The confidential informant then observed a man exit the residence, walk down the front steps, and enter a parked blue Cadillac bearing District of Columbia tags " BS3960." The confidential informant observed the unwitting informant enter the Cadillac with the man who had just emerged from 3025 Yost Place and exit the car after several moments. The unwitting informant then met the confidential informant, displayed a white rock substance that the confidential informant recognized as crack cocaine, and said that the deal " went good."

Katz's affidavit went on to say that the confidential informant accompanied him to 3025 Yost Place, where the officer observed the blue Cadillac parked in front of the residence. Katz conducted a records check that revealed that the Cadillac was registered to a Thomas Washington of 3001 Yost Place and also gave Washington's birthdate. Another records check revealed that a Thomas Washington had been arrested in 1998 in front of 3025 Yost Place for possession of an open container of alcohol, and had given 3025 Yost Place as his residence. A third check showed that a Thomas Washington, with the same birthdate as the Thomas Washington to whom the Cadillac was registered, had previously pleaded guilty to felony charges involving the distribution of and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Based on this affidavit, a District of Columbia Superior Court judge issued a warrant to search 3025 Yost Place. The

Page 407

next day, police officers executed the warrant and found crack cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and ...


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