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United States v. Jones

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

June 19, 2018

United States of America, Appellee,
v.
Rashaud Jones, Defendant-Appellant, Charles Tyson, Madelaine Rivera, Defendants.

          Argued: August 15, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. No. 3:13-cr-2-1 - Michael P. Shea, District Judge.

         Defendant-Appellant Rashaud Jones appeals, following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Michael P. Shea, J.), from his conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute various quantities of cocaine base and cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a narcotics trafficking crime, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

         On appeal, Jones argues that we should vacate his conviction because the district court erred by: (1) denying a motion to suppress evidence seized from a warrantless search of a car used by him; (2) denying his motion to suppress evidence seized from his apartment; (3) permitting a witness to testify regarding her drug-trafficking activities with Jones prior to the period charged in the indictment; (4) instructing the jury about inferences that they could make if they found that Jones was the sole occupant of the car; and (5) applying a two-level Sentencing Guidelines enhancement for obstruction of justice.

         Rejecting each of Jones's arguments, we AFFIRM his conviction and sentence. In this opinion we discuss why the district court did not err in refusing to suppress evidence seized from a car parked in the common parking lot of a multi-family building where the vehicle search was warrantless but supported by probable cause. The remaining arguments are resolved by a summary order issued simultaneously with this opinion.

          Geoffrey M. Stone, Assistant United States Attorney (Marc H. Silverman, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), for John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, New Haven, CT, for Appellee.

          Norman A. Pattis & Brittany B. Paz, Pattis & Smith, LLC, New Haven, CT, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Before: Walker, Cabranes, and Raggi, Circuit Judges.

          JOHN M. WALKER, JR., CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant-Appellant Rashaud Jones appeals, following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Michael P. Shea, J.), from his conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute various quantities of cocaine base and cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a narcotics trafficking crime, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

         On appeal, Jones argues that we should vacate his conviction because the district court erred by: (1) denying a motion to suppress evidence seized from a warrantless search of a car used by him; (2) denying his motion to suppress evidence seized from his apartment; (3) permitting a witness to testify regarding her drug-trafficking activities with Jones prior to the period charged in the indictment; (4) instructing the jury about inferences that they could make if they found that Jones was the sole occupant of the car; and (5) applying a two-level Sentencing Guidelines enhancement for obstruction of justice.

         Rejecting each of Jones's arguments, we AFFIRM his conviction and sentence. In this opinion we discuss why the district court did not err in refusing to suppress evidence seized from a car parked in the common parking lot of a multi-family building where the vehicle search was warrantless but supported by probable cause. The remaining arguments are resolved by a summary order issued simultaneously with this opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         Jones challenges the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from a warrantless search of a car. The search occurred in December 2012, following months of investigation into Jones's drug-trafficking activities.

         A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force handles a variety of narcotics investigations in Hartford, Connecticut. For years, Officer James Campbell has been a member of that Task Force. Years prior to the events at issue in this case, ...


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