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United States v. Betances

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 22, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMIE BETANCES

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE RECOMMENDED DECISION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court overrules a defendant's objection to the recommended decision of the Magistrate Judge in which the Magistrate Judge declined to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the stop and search of a motor vehicle. The Court rejects one of the defendant's objections because he mischaracterizes the Recommended Decision and the Magistrate Judge's finding is consistent with the record. The Court rejects the other of the defendant's objections because his distinction makes no difference. Having performed its obligation to make a de novo review of the Recommended Decision, the Court affirms the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and declines to suppress evidence from the stop and search of the vehicle.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 12, 2018, Jamie Betances moved to suppress the May 10, 2016 stop of a vehicle in which he was a passenger and the subsequent search of the vehicle under the Fourth Amendment. Def.'s Mot. to Suppress Vehicle Stop (ECF No. 439). The United States Magistrate Judge filed with the Court on May 15, 2018 his Recommended Decision, in which he recommended that the Court deny the motion (ECF No. 511) (Recommended Decision). The Defendant filed his objection to the Recommended Decision on May 29, 2018 (ECF No. 523) (Def.'s Obj.).

         II. JAMIE BETANCES' OBJECTIONS

         A. A Mischaracterized Finding

         Jamie Betances raises two objections to the Recommended Decision, each attacking the factual basis for the recommendation. In the first objection, Mr. Betances writes:

The Recommended Decision concludes that a “number of people” were observed coming and going from the home prior to the stop, and it was consistent with drug activity. Recommended Decision at p. 2, 5. The record establishes that only one vehicle came and went (twice) from the home before the pick-up truck. There is no factual basis to conclude that this activity was consistent with drug activity.

Def.'s Obj. at 3.

         Mr. Betances' objection-either deliberately or not-mischaracterizes the Magistrate Judge's finding. In the Recommended Decision, the Magistrate Judge wrote:

         In addition, prior to the stop of the vehicle, law enforcement observed a number of individuals come and go from the residence, which movement is consistent with drug activity.

Recommended Decision at 5. Mr. Betances disputes the finding on the ground that “only one vehicle came and went (twice) from the home before the pick-up truck.” Def.'s Obj. at 3. But the Magistrate Judge did not limit his finding to people in vehicles. The stipulated record reveals the following coming and going of people at the Berard residence; some in vehicles, some not:

(1) 12:02 - white male dressed in a white tank top and dark colored backpack and a female dressed in black exited the residence and went into the drive and then returned into the Berard home;
(2) 12:07 - two white males exited the Berard residence and began walking on Center Road. The officer, who grew up in the area, recognized one of the males as Scott Perry, a person the officer knew while growing ...

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