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United States v. Wimer

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

November 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY JUSTON WIMER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [ECF NO. 73], OVERRULING DEFENDANT'S OBJECTIONS [ECF NO. 80], AND DENYING MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS [ECF NOS. 54, 63]

          THOMAS S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) by United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Aloi (the “Magistrate Judge”). In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court deny two motions to suppress filed by Defendant Timothy Juston Wimer (“Wimer”). For the reasons discussed below, the Court adopts the R&R, overrules Wimer's objections, and denies both motions to suppress.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When reviewing a magistrate judge's R&R, the Court must review de novo only the portions to which an objection has been timely made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Otherwise, “the Court may adopt, without explanation, any of the magistrate judge's recommendations to which the [parties do] not object.” Dellarcirprete v. Gutierrez, 479 F.Supp.2d 600, 603-04 (N.D. W.Va. 2007) (citing Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983)). Courts will uphold portions of a recommendation to which no objection has been made unless they are clearly erroneous. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). Here, the R&R provided that parties must file objections on or before Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Wimer timely did so [ECF No. 80]. He objected to four portions of the R&R, specifically arguing the following:

(1) There was no reasonable suspicion for the search of the black bag;
(2) There was no reasonable suspicion for the stop of the Volvo;
(3) There was no probable cause to search the Volvo; and
(4) The Government is not relying on the warrant for the search of the vehicle, so this issue should not be under the Court's consideration.

         The parties did not file any objections to the Magistrate Judge's summary of testimony or findings of fact. After reviewing for clear error and finding none, for the sake of brevity, the Court adopts and incorporates by reference both the Magistrate Judge's summary of the testimony and the factual findings as they were applied.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court reviews de novo the specific portions of the R&R to which Wimer objected.

         A. The probation officers had reasonable suspicion to search the black bag in Wimer's bedroom.

         The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” When an individual is on probation or supervised release, however, he may be subject to conditions that diminish his reasonable expectation of privacy. United States v. Hill, 776 F.3d 243, 248-49 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 119-20 (2001)).

         In Knights, the Supreme Court of the United States held that if a probationer agrees to a warrantless search condition, a probation officer with reasonable suspicion of criminal activity can search the probationer's residence without a warrant. Knights, 534 U.S. at 121. In elaborating on this principle, the Fourth Circuit has found that “the specific probation condition authorizing warrantless searches was critical” to the holding in Knights. Hill, 776 F.3d at 249. The Hill court also noted that the “probation order clearly expressed the search condition and Knights was unambiguously informed of it.” Id. (citing Knights, 534 U.S. at 119).

         Under these governing principles, the Magistrate Judge was correct to find that the probation officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to search the black bag in Wimer's house. Wimer was on supervised release when the search occurred. As part of his supervised release, he was subject to certain conditions. Paragraph 17 of these conditions provided:

Upon reasonable suspicion by the probation officer, you shall submit your person, property, house, residence, vehicle, papers, computers, or other electronic communications or data storage devices or media, or office, to a search conducted by a United States Probation Officer. Failure to submit to a search may be grounds for revocation of release. You shall ...

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