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United States v. Walker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DELEON COLTAY WALKER, Defendant.

          Gregory Brooker, Acting United States Attorney, and Surya Saxena, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          John C. Brink, for defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         Deleon Coltay Walker has been indicted for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Armed Career Criminal (Count 1) and for Interference with Commerce by Robbery (Count 2). Walker filed a series of pretrial motions, and the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that the motions be denied. (R&R, Oct. 25, 2017, Docket No. 41.) Walker objected to portions of the R&R. (Objs., Nov. 8, 2017, Docket No. 42.) The United States contests some of Walker's objections but stipulated that it would not offer Rule 404(b) evidence related to prior bad acts at trial. (Resp. to Objs. at 2-3, Nov. 21, 2017, Docket No. 45.) As such, a portion of the R&R is now moot. Because the Court does not otherwise find error in the R&R, it will overrule Walker's objections and adopt the R&R to the extent that it is consistent with this Opinion and Order.

         DISCUSSION

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Upon the filing of a report and recommendation by a magistrate judge, “a party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). “The objections should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which objections are made and provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No. 07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008). “The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). “The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3).

         II. MOTIONS TO SUPRESS

         Walker has filed four motions to suppress. (See Mot. to Suppress Elec. Surveillance Evid. (“No. 22”), Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 22; Mot. to Suppress Search & Seizure Evid. (“No. 24”), Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 24; Mot. to Suppress Interrogation Evid. (“No. 25”), Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 25; Mot. to Suppress Ident. Evid. (“No. 26”), Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 26.) The Magistrate Judge recommended denying two of them (Nos. 22 & 25) as moot because the United States stipulated that it will not offer the contested evidence. (R&R at 4, 7.) Walker does not object to those recommendations, and the Court will adopt them.

         However, Walker does object to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the other two motions (Nos. 24 & 26) be denied. Those two motions relate in relevant part to Walker's prior arrests. In each, Walker argues that any illegally-obtained evidence must be suppressed. The search and seizure motion is for evidence related to a January 5, 2013, arrest. (No. 24 at 1-2). The identification motion is for evidence related to arrests on June 20 and July 6, 2005, and April 1, 2007. (No. 26 at 1-3.) The United States noted that the evidence at issue was to be used at trial only under Rule 404(b) and at sentencing. (Resp. to Mots. at 7, 10, Sept. 5, 2017, Docket No. 31.) The Magistrate Judge recommended denying the motions on the grounds that Walker showed neither that the evidence at issue was unconstitutional nor legal authority that the exclusionary rule bars Rule 404(b) evidence. (R&R at 4-7.)

         Walker objects to both of those grounds. (Objs. at 1-2.) First, Walker argues that the Magistrate Judge improperly shifted the burden of proof on the issue of constitutionality to the Defendant, citing extensive authority showing that it is the Government's burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that contested evidence was obtained constitutionally. (Id. at 7 & n.1.) Second, Walker argues that illegally-obtained evidence should not be introduced under Rule 404(b), at least to the extent that it would be used to prove the crime charged. (Id. at 9-10.) Walker quotes from United States v. Hill, a Tenth Circuit case: “the exclusionary rule does apply where, as here, the alleged unlawfully obtained evidence is being used to prove an essential element of a charged offense-at least where there is some nexus between the initial search and seizure and the subsequent charged offense.” 60 F.3d 672, 677-81 (10th Cir. 1995).

         The United States filed a response acknowledging that at least four circuits have concluded that the exclusionary rule does bar certain illegally-obtained Rule 404(b) evidence.[1] (Resp. to Objs. at 2-3.) Because the Eighth Circuit has not decided the matter, the United States has elected to stipulate that it will not seek to offer evidence of or about the contested acts at trial under Rule 404(b).[2] (Id. at 3.) As such, the Court will deny as moot Walker's motions as they relate to his prior arrests.[3]

         III. MOTION TO DISMISS

         Walker has also filed a motion to dismiss the charge against him because he is not an Armed Career Criminal. (Mot. to Dismiss, Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 27.) The Magistrate Judge concluded that it would be premature to make that determination. (R&R at 7.) Walker objects, arguing that the alleged predicate crimes are elements of the offense charged. (Objs. at 11.) Because Walker has ...


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