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United States v. Starks

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Newnan Division

February 1, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DANTE STARRS, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Timothy C. Batten, Sr. United States District Judge

         This case comes before the Court on Defendant Dante Starks's objections [51] to Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard's report and recommendation (the "R&R") [47], which recommends that Starks's motions [19, 25, 29, 30] to suppress evidence be denied.

         I. Legal Standard on Review of a Magistrate Judge's R&R

         A 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)).[1]

         "Parties filing objections must specifically identify those findings I 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.

         After 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).

         I

II. Discussion

         Starks objects to the magistrate judge's holdings that (1) he lacked standing to challenge the search of the vehicle; (2) even if he had standing, the search warrant was based upon sufficient probable cause; and (3) even if the search warrant lacked probable cause, the good faith exception applied. The Court has conducted a careful, de novo review of the R&R and Starks's objections thereto. Starks's objections are taken in turn.

         A. Standing to Challenge Search of the Rental Car

         The magistrate judge did not err in holding that Starks lacked standing to challenge the search of the rental car. "An 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. Bushay, 859 F.Supp.2d 1335, 1361 (N.D.Ga. 2012) (quoting United States v. Harris, 526 F.3d 1334, 1338 (11th Cir. 2008)). The defendant carries the burden to establish both the subjective and objective expectations of privacy. United States v. Suarez-Blanca, No. 1:07-cr-0023-MHS/AJB, 2008 WL 4200156, at *6 (N.D.Ga. Apr. 21, 2008).

         "A driver generally has an expectation of privacy in a rental vehicle that he or she rents." United States v. Alexis, 169 F.Supp.3d 1303, 1310 (S.D. Fla. 2016), aff'd, 688 Fed.Appx. 656 (11th Cir. May 10, 2017) (per curiam). However, that general rule only applies to "someone in otherwise lawful possession and control of a rental car . . . ." Byrd v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1518, 1524 (2018) (emphasis added) (finding that an unauthorized rental car driver may have standing to challenge a search of the vehicle). Society would not find reasonable an expectation of privacy in fraudulently obtained or unlawfully possessed property. See United States v. Wai-Keung, 845 F.Supp. 1548, 1563 (S.D. Fla. 1994), aff'd, 115 F.3d 874 (11th Cir. 1997) ("Society should not recognize an expectation of privacy in a hotel room obtained fraudulently, and we do not believe that such an expectation is legitimate or reasonable."); Byrd, 138 S.Ct. at 1529 ("No matter the degree of possession and control, the car thief would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a stolen car.").

         Here, even if Starks carried his burden to establish the subjective prong, [2] he fraudulently obtained the rental car, which means his possession of the vehicle was unlawful. [43] at 3 (Starks "stated that he ihad used a counterfeit identification card and credit card in the name of Timothy Jones to rent the vehicle in Baltimore."). Therefore, the Court finds that Starks lacks standing to challenge the search of the rental car since he fraudulently obtained the vehicle.

         B. ...


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