Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Pruitt

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

May 21, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STEVEN PRUITT, JR.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          GRAY M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the court is a Motion to Suppress (Doc. 215) filed by Defendant Steven Pruitt, Jr. The court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on May 9, 2019 and has reviewed the Government's response to the motion (Doc. 217), along with the parties' evidentiary materials and the relevant law. For the reasons to follow, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the Motion to Suppress (Doc. 215) be DENIED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A Grand Jury sitting within the Middle District of Alabama returned a superseding indictment against Pruitt on three counts: one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess a controlled substance, one count of distribution of a controlled substance, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Doc. 96. Pruitt claims in his motion to suppress that the Government obtained the evidence supporting these charges through an illegal search of a residence, an illegal search of a vehicle, and an illegal search of his person. Specifically, Pruitt seeks to suppress “all evidence and all statements seized” as a result of the search warrant executed on July 20, 2017. Doc. 215 at 1. The court recommends that Pruitt's request to suppress the evidence and statements obtained during the execution of the search warrant be denied.

         II. FACTS

         The testimony, briefing, and evidentiary materials offered at the hearing on Pruitt's motion established the following facts.

         Ebony Dailey is a special operations detective for the Montgomery Police Department (“MPD”). Transcript of May 9, 2019 Hearing (“Tr.”) at 5. During July 2017, a confidential informant told her that drugs were being sold from a residence located at 2461 Brooks Court, Montgomery, Alabama. Doc. 217-1. This was Dailey's first time to use this particular confidential informant. Tr. at 17. One other officer at MPD had used the informant in the past. Tr. at 18-19.

         The confidential informant told Dailey that a black male known as “Steve” was selling drugs from the Brooks Court location. Doc. 217-1. The informant described “Steve” as being “in his 30s, dark complexion, approximately 6'0, approximately 230 pounds and low haircut style.” Doc. 217. Also during July 2017, Dailey used the informant to conduct a controlled buy of marijuana from “Steve.” Doc. 217-1.

         Using the information generated by the informant, Dailey prepared a search warrant and affidavit for the Brooks Court residence “and any areas and vehicles attached to the curtilage and associated to the residence.” Docs. 217-1 & -2. On the face page of the warrant and within the affidavit, Dailey listed the property to be searched as “2461 Brooks Court, Montgomery, Alabama.” Docs. 217-1 & -2. She described the residence as a tan, single-story house with a brick exterior. Doc. 217-1. In the affidavit, she described “Steve” as a “black male in his 30's, dark complexion, approximately 6'0, approximately 230 pounds and low haircut style.” Doc. 217-1. Dailey disclosed that this information came from a confidential informant identified in the affidavit with the shorthand “A.” Doc. 217-1. Dailey's affidavit described the controlled purchase of marijuana as follows:

[D]uring the month of July 2017[, ] “A” under the direct control and supervision of Detective E.L. Dailey #2464 and Sergeant J.S. Dunn went to 2461 Brooks Court, Montgomery, AL to attempt to make a controlled purchase. “A” advised he/she made contact with “Steve” inside the residence. “A” advised he/she asked “Steve” for pound of mid (meaning marijuana). “A” advised that “Steve” retrieved a quantity of marijuana from a bag. “A” advised that “Steve” handed him/her a quantity of marijuana. “A” then gave “Steve” a quantity of the Montgomery Police Department Drug Buy Money. This controlled drug buy occurred within 72 hours of the issuance of this warrant.

Doc. 217-1.

         Before signing the warrant, a municipal court judge sitting within the City of Montgomery, Judge Milton J. Westry, Sr., asked Dailey for more facts about the controlled buy. Tr. at 7. At the evidentiary hearing, Dailey testified that she could not remember the specific questions Judge Westry asked, but she did remember what she told him. Tr. at 7-8 & 16. This included the following facts. Dailey and Sergeant Dunn conducted surveillance of the controlled buy. Tr. at 7. They searched the confidential informant before sending him[1] into the Brooks Court residence. Tr. at 7. During the controlled buy, Dailey and Dunn listened in real time to the informant's conversation with “Steve” using a radio transmitter and concealed microphone. Tr. at 7 & 12-13. They searched the informant after he left the residence and retrieved a pound of marijuana from him. Tr. at 7-8.

         Dailey was unable to recall whether Judge Westry asked about the confidential informant's reliability. Tr. at 16. However, Dailey testified that she was sure that she told the judge about the informant's reliability because she is “always speaking of the reliability of [her] confidential informants.” Tr. at 16. Even so, she did not have any specific memory of what she said about the informant's reliability. Tr. at 16. On this showing, Judge Westry authorized the warrant on July 14, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. Doc. 217-1.

         On July 20, 2017 at 12:32 p.m., MPD officers executed the search warrant at 2461 Brooks Court, Montgomery, Alabama. Doc. 215 at 2. At that time, Pruitt was sitting in a red Ford Focus sedan parked in the driveway. Doc. 215 at 2. During the search of the residence, the officers found 622 grams of marijuana; two digital scales; a Glock .40 caliber magazine containing nine rounds of ammunition; and assorted documents, including a traffic ticket for Pruitt and mail addressed to Pruitt. Doc. 215 at 2-3. Inside the Ford Focus, the officers found a black Samsung Gusto 3 cell phone, a rose-colored iPhone, and a white Samsung Galaxy Core cell ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.