United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
TIMOTHY C. BATTEN, SR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Russell G.
Vineyard's Final Report and Recommendation (the
“R&R”)  which recommends denying
Defendant Shyam Agarwal's motions ,  to suppress
evidence. Agarwal has filed objections to the R&R .
is charged in a one-count indictment with intent to
distribute a Schedule I controlled substance, AB-PINACA,
AB-CHMINACA, and XLR11 (collectively, “synthetic
marijuana”), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and(b)(1)(c). Agarwal seeks to suppress evidence
collected and seized by the police following a traffic stop
on April 14, 2015. The facts of the case are largely
undisputed and the Court adopts the facts as set forth in the
R&R except as discussed herein. Agarwal objects to one
factual issue in the R&R and the conclusions reached by
the magistrate judge.
Legal Standard on Review of a Magistrate Judge's
district judge has a duty to conduct a “careful and
complete” review of a magistrate judge's R&R.
Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir.
1982) (per curiam) (quoting Nettles v. Wainwright,
677 F.2d 404, 408 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982)). This review may
take different forms, however, depending on whether there are
objections to the R&R. The district judge must
“make a de novo determination of those portions of the
[R&R] to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C). In contrast, those portions of the R&R to
which no objection is made need only be reviewed for
“clear error.” Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208
Fed.Appx. 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (quoting
Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins., 416
F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)).
filing objections must specifically identify those findings
objected to. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections need
not be considered by the district court.”
Nettles, 677 F.2d at 410 n.8. “This rule
facilitates the opportunity for district judges to spend more
time on matters actually contested and produces a result
compatible with the purposes of the Magistrates Act.”
Id. at 410.
conducting a complete and careful review of the R&R, the
district judge “may accept, reject, or modify”
the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Williams, 681 F.2d at
732. The district judge “may also receive further
evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Agarwal's Objections to the R&R
objects to three of the conclusions reached by the magistrate
judge in the R&R. Specifically, Agarwal objects to the
conclusions that the scope and duration of the traffic stop
were reasonable; that Agarwal's consent to search his
vehicle was freely and voluntarily given; and that the
collective knowledge doctrine provided Georgia state trooper
Jeremy Lipham with independent probable cause to search
Agarwal's vehicle. Further, he objects to the factual
statements in the R&R indicating that trooper Lipham
received updates from Drug Enforcement Agency
(“DEA”) agents monitoring the controlled buy
sufficient to establish independent probable cause. As such,
the Court will consider these questions de novo.
The Scope and Duration of the Traffic Stop Were
objects to the magistrate judge's finding that the scope
and duration of the stop were reasonable because he argues
that Lipham was not acting diligently in his investigation of
the traffic offense. Agarwal was pulled over after Lipham
observed one of his brake lights was not functioning. The
stop lasted approximately twelve minutes from the beginning
of the stop until Agarwal provided written consent for Lipham
to search his vehicle.
a legal stop, police officers may prolong the detention to
investigate a driver's license and registration, conduct
a criminal history check, and conduct further investigation
if the police officer has an “articulable suspicion of
other illegal activity.” United States v.
Boyce, 351 F.3d 1102, 1106 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting
United States v. Purcell, 236 F.3d 1274, 1277 (11th
Cir. 2001). Lipham had an objectively reasonable, articulable
suspicion of illegal activity based on the brake light not
functioning correctly, a violation of O.C.G.A. §
40-8-25(b), which requires that a vehicle's brake lights
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 (1968), an
officer's actions during a traffic stop must be
“reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which
justified the interference in the first place.”
“Furthermore, the duration of the traffic stop must be
limited to the time necessary to effectuate the purpose of
the stop.” Purcell, 236 F.3d at 1277 (emphasis
omitted). “The traffic stop may not last ‘any
longer than necessary to process the traffic violation'
unless there is articulable suspicion of other illegal
activity.” Id. (quoting United States
v. Holloman, 113 F.3d 192, 196 (11th Cir. 1997)).
touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness.”