United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART REPORT
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge.
January 11, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Katherine M.
Menendez issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) in this
case. (Dkt. 83.) The R&R recommends granting in part and
denying in part Defendant Pisanu Sukhtipyaroge's Motion
to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and
Seizure. (Dkt. 46.) Both Plaintiff United States of America
and Sukhtipyaroge timely objected to the R&R. For the
reasons that follow, the objection of the United States to
the R&R is sustained, Sukhtipyaroge's objection to
the R&R is overruled, and Sukhtipyaroge's motion to
suppress evidence is denied.
2017, Detective Michael Schantzen of the Anoka County
Sherriff's Office interviewed A.M., an alleged victim of
human trafficking. During the interview, A.M. reported that
his family and Sukhtipyaroge agreed in 2015 that A.M. would
move to the United States and Sukhtipyaroge would pay for
A.M.'s education. According to Detective Schantzen, A.M.
stated that Sukhtipyaroge began engaging in unwanted sexual
contact with him “not too long” after A.M.
arrived in the United States. When Sukhtipyaroge subsequently
prevented A.M. from attending school, A.M. began working at
Sukhtipyaroge's restaurant, Royal Orchid. A.M. reported
that while working at Royal Orchid, Sukhtipyaroge threatened
A.M. with deportation to coerce A.M.'s compliance with
ongoing sexual contact. After A.M. disclosed that his cell
phone contained photographs of his sexual contact with
Sukhtipyaroge, Detective Schantzen copied the contents of
A.M.'s cell phone with A.M.'s consent.
also reported that Sukhtipyaroge permitted him to use
Sukhtipyaroge's computer at Royal Orchid to communicate
with A.M.'s family. A.M. advised Detective Schantzen that
this computer may contain videos of Sukhtipyaroge engaging in
sexual acts, including one video that A.M. believed may
depict a minor. According to A.M., these videos were on an
S.D. card that A.M. had removed from
Sukhtipyaroge's computer and possessed for the past year.
A.M. voluntarily gave this S.D. card to Detective Schantzen.
Detective Schantzen obtained a warrant to search the contents
of the S.D. card because he believed that A.M. could not
consent to the search of an S.D. card that A.M. did not own.
Detective Schantzen also secured search warrants for
Sukhtipyaroge's residence and Royal Orchid. The warrants
authorized a broad range of items and data to be searched,
including “[c]ellular phones and other devices that may
contain text messages, voicemails, photographs, emails and
other types of communication” and authorized a
“forensic examination” of any recovered
Schantzen arrested Sukhtipyaroge at a retail store on August
1, 2017, and, during a search incident to arrest, seized a
fanny pack, keys to Sukhtipyaroge's vehicle, and
Sukhtipyaroge's HTC cell phone. Law enforcement officers
thereafter executed the search warrants at
Sukhtipyaroge's residence and Royal Orchid. Detective
Schantzen subsequently realized that he submitted
Sukhtipyaroge's HTC cell phone for forensic analysis
without a warrant because the cell phone was seized during
Sukhtipyaroge's arrest rather than during a search of
Sukhtipyaroge's residence or Royal Orchid. Homeland
Security Special Agent Charles Bautch thereafter applied for
a search warrant for Sukhtipyaroge's HTC cell phone.
Special Agent Bautch explained in the search warrant
application that state authorities had erroneously searched
the cell phone and the application did not rely on any
information recovered from the warrantless search. A
magistrate judge issued a search warrant for
Sukhtipyaroge's HTC cell phone based on the application.
moves to suppress the S.D. card, the HTC cell phone, and any
evidence obtained from either device, arguing that the S.D.
card was unlawfully seized and that the HTC cell phone was
unlawfully searched. The R&R recommends granting
Sukhtipyaroge's motion to suppress the S.D. card because
no exception to the warrant requirement justifies seizure of
the S.D. card and denying the motion as to
Sukhtipyaroge's HTC cell phone based on the
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
U.S. Const. amend. IV. Warrantless searches and seizures are
presumptively unreasonable. Payton v. New York, 445
U.S. 573, 586 (1980). Evidence obtained in violation of the
Fourth Amendment is subject to the exclusionary rule,
Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 139 (2009),
unless the government proves by a preponderance of the
evidence that an exception to the exclusionary rule applies,
Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 444 (1984);
United States v. Kennedy, 427 F.3d 1136, 1144 (8th
the United States and Sukhtipyaroge object to the R&R.
The United States objects to the recommended suppression of
the S.D. card, arguing that an exception to the warrant
requirement justifies the seizure of the S.D. card. In
support of his objection, Sukhtipyaroge argues that the
independent-source doctrine does not excuse the warrantless
search of the HTC cell phone. The Court reviews these
objections de novo, see 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C); accord LR 72.2(b)(3), and analyzes
each in turn.
R&R recommends granting Sukhtipyaroge's motion to
suppress the S.D. card because neither exigent circumstances
nor the inevitable-discovery doctrine excuse the warrantless
seizure of the S.D. card. In support of its objection, the
United States argues that the warrantless seizure of the S.D.
card is excused by A.M.'s consent, exigent circumstances,
the inevitable-discovery doctrine, or the good-faith
exception. Sukhtipyaroge counters that A.M. lacked the
authority to consent to the seizure of the S.D. card and that
no other exception to the warrant requirement exists under
is seized when there is a meaningful interference with an
individual's possessory interest in the seized property.
United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984).
Consent is a “well settled” exception to the
requirement to obtain a warrant before seizing property,
Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 219 (1973),
and must be obtained from a party with a possessory interest
in the property, United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S.
164, 171 (1974). A third party may consent to the seizure of
property if the third party shares sufficient common
authority over the property. United States v.
Clutter, 674 F.3d 980, 983 (8th Cir. 2012); see also
Matlock, 415 U.S. at 176. The Fourth Amendment is not
violated when law enforcement officers reasonably rely on a
third party's apparent authority to consent to seizure.
Clutter, 674 F.3d at 983.
United States relies on Clutter to support its
contention that a warrant was not required to seize the S.D.
card in light of A.M.'s consent. In Clutter,
after the defendant was arrested for burglary, he identified
certain computers that he used to facilitate his crime.
Id. at 982-83. These computers were located in a
residence that the defendant shared with his father.
Id. During a search of these computers, law
enforcement officers discovered suspected images of child
pornography. Id. The officers then seized
other computers from the residence with the consent
of the defendant's father. Id. The Eighth
Circuit determined that the warrantless seizure of these
computers was lawful because the defendant's father had
actual possession of and joint access to the computers, he
consented to their seizure, law ...