United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. MOORER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Grand Jury for the Southern District of Alabama indicted the
defendant, Devontae Moorer (“Devontae Moorer” or
“Defendant”), on August 29, 2019. The Superseding
Indictment charged Defendant with two (2) counts for
possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and
possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime. See Doc. 21. Pending before the Court is
Defendant Devontae Moorer's Motion to Suppress
(Doc. 24, filed September 3, 2019) and the United States'
Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to
Suppress (Doc. 30, filed September 11, 2019).
September 24, 2019, the Court held an evidentiary hearing, at
the conclusion of which Defendant was provided an opportunity
to supplement his motion. See Doc. 25. However,
Defendant did not file such a supplement. See Docket
Sheet. Based on the evidence presented to the Court, the
arguments of the parties, and for the reasons set forth
herein and contained in the Government's Response in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 3),
Defendant's Motion to Suppress is
12, 2018, as part of a joint operation between federal and
local law enforcement, officers patrolling in the area of St.
Stephens Road observed a red Dodge Challenger make a right
turn from St. Stephens Road and fail to signal the turn. The
vehicle made a subsequent turn and again failed to signal.
The officers requested local patrol to stop the vehicle. The
vehicle stopped at 2111 Margie Street.
Detective Marquis Parsons approached the vehicle on the
driver's side, and observed Defendant seated in the
vehicle behind the wheel and an AR-type weapon on the
driver's side of the vehicle. Detective Parsons announced
he observed a weapon, drew his weapon, commanded the vehicle
occupants show their hands, and then commanded the occupants
exit the vehicle. When the two (2) occupants of the vehicle
exited, Detective Parsons detected the smell of marijuana.
The officers on the scene obtained identifying information
from each of the vehicle occupants and ran their information
through law enforcement databases. The vehicle passenger was
identified as Joshua Moorer, Defendant's brother, who was
found to have outstanding arrest warrants. The AR-15 weapon
was also run through law enforcement databases, which
indicated the weapon was reported as stolen. It later became
known Defendant reported the weapon as stolen. Defendant told
the officers the AR-15 weapon was his gun and he had
paperwork for it. However, both Devontae and Joshua Moorer
were handcuffed and arrested. The officers on the scene
searched the vehicle, within which they found another gun, a
Glock 27 pistol, and a bag of crack cocaine.
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
well established that for a defendant to move to suppress
evidence, he must have standing. See United States v.
Eyster, 948 F.2d 1196, 1208-09 (11th Cir. 1991)
(analyzing the defendant's standing to bring motion to
suppress). A defendant has the burden of showing standing
under the Fourth Amendment. See United States v.
Brazel, 102 F.3d 1120, 1147 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing
United States v. Baron-Mantilla, 743 F.2d 868, 870
(11th Cir. 1984)) (stating, in a motion to suppress context,
it is the defendant's burden to show a “legitimate
expection of privacy “ in the area searched). To claim
the protection of the Fourth Amendment, an individual must
have a “legitimate expectation of privacy in the
invaded place.” Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S.
128, 143, 99 S.Ct. 421, 430, 58 L.Ed.2d 387 (1978) (citing
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 353, 88 S.Ct.
507, 512, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967)). A defendant's
expectation of privacy must be “personal” and
“reasonable, ” and it must have “a source
outside of the Fourth Amendment, either by reference to
concepts of real or personal property law or to
understandings that are recognized and permitted by
society.” Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83,
88, 119 S.Ct. 469, 472, 142 L.Ed.2d 373 (1998) (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted). That said,
“[s]tanding does not require an ownership interest in
the invaded area.” United States v. Hernandez,
647 F.3d 216, 219 (5th Cir. 2011) (noting that the Supreme
Court has recognized that an overnight guest in a home has a
legitimate expectation of privacy in that home).
individual has standing to challenge a search if “(1)
he has a subjective expectation of privacy, and (2) society
is prepared to recognize that expectation as objectively
reasonable.” United States v. Harris, 526 F.3d
1334, 1338 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing United States v.
Segura-Baltazar, 448 F.3d 1281, 1286 (11th Cir. 2006)).
Courts assess on a case-by-case basis the standing of a
particular person to challenge an intrusion by government
officials into an area over which that person lacked primary
control. Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 191
n. 13, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80 L.Ed.2d 214 (1984). Moreover, the
Eleventh Circuit has held that where a defendant is neither
the owner nor the lessee of the place searched, in order to
contest a search, he must “demonstrate a significant
and current interest in the property at the time it was
searched.” United States v. Miller, 387
Fed.Appx. 949, 951 (11th Cir. 2010) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
neither party contests the vehicle that was searched was
owned by Defendant. Therefore, Defendant had a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the vehicle.
argues the officers did not have probable cause to stop him
in his vehicle and takes exception with the actions of the
officers that they performed as part of the stop. Doc. 24 at
2-5. Law enforcement “may stop a vehicle when there is
probable cause to believe that the driver is violating any
one of the multitude of applicable traffic and equipment
regulations relating to the operation of motor
vehicles.” United States v. Strickland, 902
F.2d 937, 940 (11th Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks,
internal ellipses, and citation omitted). The officers at the
hearing testified Defendant was pulled over for failure to
signal a turn, which is a traffic violation that can be found
at Ala. Code § 32-5A-134. Therefore, the Court finds there
was probable cause to stop Defendant in his vehicle.
It is well established that officers conducting a traffic
stop may “take such steps as [are] reasonably necessary
to protect their personal safety.” United States v.
Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 235, 105 S.Ct. 675, 83 L.Ed.2d
604 (1985). This includes conducting a protective search of
the driver, Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106,
111, 112, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977), the
passengers, id., and the vehicle, Michigan v.
Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1049-51, 103 S.Ct. 3469, 77 L.Ed.
2D 1201 (1983). The officer may seize any contraband,
including weapons, in plain view. Id. at 1049, 103
S.Ct. 3469. . . . The officer may also prolong the detention
to investigate the driver's license and the vehicle
registration, [Delaware v.] Prouse, 440
U.S. [648, ] 657-59, 99 S.Ct. 1391');">99 S.Ct. 1391 [, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979)],
and may do so by requesting a computer check. United
States v. Simmons, 172 F.3d 775, 778 (11th Cir. 1999);
[United States v.] Pruitt, 174 F.3d [1215,
] 1219 [(11th Cir. 1999)]; see ...