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United States v. Anderson

United States District Court, Second Circuit

October 24, 2013



CHRISTINA REISS, Chief District Judge.

This matter came before the court on August 14, 2013 for an evidentiary hearing on Defendant Valentino Anderson's motion to join his wife and co-conspirator Crystal Hall Anderson's motion to suppress evidence and statements.

Defendant is charged in a three-count Indictment with one count of conspiring with Crystal Hall Anderson to distribute heroin and cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), 846; one count of possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), 18 U.S.C. § 2; and one count of distribution of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C).

Following her indictment in a parallel case, Crystal Anderson sought to suppress all evidence stemming from her arrest, arguing that there was no probable cause for her arrest and that the evidence removed from her vaginal cavity was not voluntarily obtained. She also sought to suppress her post-arrest statements, contending that she was subjected to custodial interrogation without the benefit of Miranda warnings and that after she was belatedly provided Miranda warnings, law enforcement did not honor her invocation of her right to remain silent or obtain a knowing and voluntary waiver of her rights. Ms. Anderson's motion was rendered moot when the government entered into a Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement with her which called for a sentence of time served. The parties asked to waive the presentence report and to proceed immediately to sentencing. The court granted these requests, accepted the plea agreement, and sentenced Ms. Anderson to time served, with supervised release to follow.

Defendant asserts that "he has standing to demand the relief sought in Crystal Anderson's Motion to Suppress, since, if offered and admitted against him at trial, the evidence seized from Ms. Anderson in the course of a bad faith search would constitute a violation of [Defendant's Fifth] Amendment due process rights, " (Doc. 30 at 1.) The government opposes Defendant's motion, arguing that Defendant lacks standing to seek suppression of evidence arguably obtained in violation of Ms. Anderson's "personal rights" under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (Doc. 41 at 3.)

In rulings made on the record at the court's August 14 evidentiary hearing, the court concluded that Defendant does not have standing to challenge evidence obtained from Ms. Anderson in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights[1] or standing to seek suppression of statements she made in violation of her Miranda rights under the Fifth Amendment.[2] Accordingly, the court denied Defendant's motion to join in Ms. Anderson's motion to suppress on those grounds. However, the court took under advisement the remaining issue raised in Defendant's motion: whether admitting evidence recovered from Ms. Anderson's body would violate Defendant's own substantive due process rights because the evidence was obtained by "conduct that shocks the conscience." Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165, 172 (1952).

The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Craig S. Nolan. Defendant is represented by Richard C. Bothfeld, Esq.

I. Findings of Fact.

The following findings of fact are derived from the affidavit of Vermont State Police ("VSP") Senior Trooper Michael Studin and the Investigation Narrative authored by VSP Senior Trooper Max Trenosky, as well as three videotapes depicting portions of Ms. Anderson's detainment at VSP's Brattleboro barracks. Where the affidavits differ from the events reflected in the videotapes, the court has relied on the videotapes. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378-81 (2007) (ruling that when there is "a videotape capturing the events in question, " a court should rely on the facts "depicted by the videotape").

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on October 30, 2012, Trooper Studin received a call from Massachusetts State Trooper Brandon Shurgue reporting a "suspicious vehicle" identified as a gray 2005 Pontiac Grand Am with Vermont license plate FRB811 traveling north on Interstate 91 in the City of Springfield, Massachusetts. (Doc. 29-1 at 1.) Trooper Shurgue advised Trooper Studin that he had checked the vehicle's registration and discovered that the registered owner had numerous prior arrests, including for the sale of cocaine and a firearm violation from New York City. Trooper Studin, in turn, contacted Trooper Trenosky to advise him "of a potential drug load coming up Interstate 91, " and Trooper Trenosky stationed himself on Interstate 91 near the Vermont/Massachusetts border. (Doc. 29-2 at 1.)

Approximately forty-five minutes later, Trooper Studin located the suspect vehicle traveling north on Interstate 91, through Brattleboro, Vermont. He observed that both the front passenger's and driver's windows were rolled down even though it was raining outside. The vehicle exited the interstate and pulled into a gas station. As the vehicle left the gas station a few minutes later, Trooper Studin determined that the vehicle's front headlights were not illuminated in violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1244, and he conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle. Trooper Trenosky arrived at the traffic stop shortly thereafter.

Defendant was the operator of the vehicle. His passengers were Kenneth Clark, seated in the front passenger's seat, and Crystal Anderson, seated in the back seat directly behind Defendant. Defendant told Trooper Studin that they had driven from Rutland, Vermont, to Rhode Island to visit Mr. Clark's grandson, who lives in Westerly, Rhode Island. In the course of their conversations with the troopers, the three occupants offered differing accounts regarding the purpose of their trip, whom they visited, and the trip's duration.

After Trooper Studin advised Defendant that he would be issuing a written warning for the headlight infraction, Defendant agreed to exit the vehicle and permit a search of his person. During a search of Defendant's person, Trooper Studin located a receipt from a restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut, dated 10/30/12 at 6:43 p.m. When he asked Defendant if they had traveled through Connecticut, Defendant stated they had not. Defendant ultimately admitted that they had traveled to Hartford that day. Defendant further reported to Trooper Studin that he "previously" had used heroin and that his wife, Ms. Anderson, had "problems with heroin and crack cocaine." (Doc. 29-1 at 2.)

While Trooper Studin searched and interviewed Defendant, Trooper Trenosky spoke with Mr. Clark and Ms. Anderson, both of whom told him that they had traveled to Westerly, Rhode Island, that day and had not been to Hartford, Connecticut. During his interactions with Mr. Clark and Ms. Anderson, Trooper Trenosky observed that the two acted nervous and repeatedly smoked cigarettes, and he "observed [Ms.] Anderson's lower abdomen move rapidly." (Doc. 29-2 at 1.) Trooper Trenosky then asked for and obtained permission to search both Mr. Clark and Ms. Anderson. He found no contraband on either, but he noted that Ms. Anderson was "shaking" during the search. Id. When asked, Ms. Anderson advised Trooper Trenosky that she had "done a lot of drugs within the last two years, " including cocaine. Id. at 2.

Thereafter, Trooper Studin sought and obtained Defendant's consent to search the vehicle. He found in Ms. Anderson's purse a plastic Ziploc bag that contained numerous small round white pills, several razor blades, two condoms, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Trooper Studin then searched the compartment on the back of the front passenger seat, in front of where Ms. Anderson had been sitting. He located a small brown handbag that had several documents bearing Ms. Anderson's name. In the handbag, Trooper Studin found two used syringes and a metal spoon with "a cotton ball on the concave portion and burn marks on the convex portion, " which he "recognized [as] items commonly used by intravenous drug users." (Doc. 29-1 at 3.) He also found "a glass tube" that he recognized as a "crack pipe." Id.

During the search of the vehicle, Trooper Studin found in the pocket of a jacket, which Defendant stated belonged to him, a plastic sandwich bag containing a white powdery substance that Trooper Studin suspected was powder cocaine. Defendant admitted that it was the remainder of the cocaine that he had consumed two days earlier.

Trooper Studin seized the items that appeared to him to be drugs or drug paraphernalia. He then placed Ms. Anderson in handcuffs, advising her that "she was being detained for investigatory purposes." (Doc. 29-1 at 3.) Ms. Anderson was placed in the front passenger seat of Trooper Trenosky's vehicle, and Trooper Trenosky remained with her. During this time, he observed that Ms. Anderson moved around a lot and that she kept asking him to check on her husband, which Trooper Trenosky surmised "was a tactic to get [him] away from [the] vehicle as she either shoved the product' deeper into her pants or attempt[ed] to leave it in [the] vehicle." (Doc. 29-2 at 2.)

Another VSP trooper, Senior Trooper Kevin Hughes, arrived at the traffic stop with his canine. During an exterior search of Defendant's vehicle for the presence of narcotics, the canine alerted. Trooper Hughes and the canine then performed an interior search of the front passenger seat of Trooper Trenosky's vehicle, where Ms. Anderson had been seated, and the canine "alerted to the seat for the presence of the odor of illegal narcotics." (Doc. 29-1 at 3.)

Trooper Studin released Defendant and Mr. Clark and allowed them to continue on their way. He, however, detained Ms. Anderson without advising her she was under arrest. He told her they were transporting her to VSP's Brattleboro barracks and that he would attempt to obtain a search warrant for her person. At the VSP barracks, Ms. Anderson advised that she knew her rights and that law enforcement did not have any reason to get a search warrant. Trooper Trenosky, accompanied by two unidentified law enforcement officers, escorted Ms. Anderson to a processing room within the barracks to await ...

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