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United States v. Taylor

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

March 31, 2017





         Defendant, Dustyn James Taylor, is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Docket 1. Taylor moves to suppress the evidence found during a search of his home on February 5, 2016. Docket 40. The motion was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy for a report and recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         Magistrate Judge Duffy held an evidentiary hearing on December 20, 2016. On December 29, 2016, Magistrate Judge Duffy issued a report and recommendation denying Taylor's motion in full. Docket 58. Taylor filed objections to the report and recommendation. Docket 68. For the following reasons, the report and recommendation is adopted as modified by this opinion.


         This court's review of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court reviews de novo any objections to the magistrate judge's recommendations with respect to dispositive matters that are timely made and specific. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Because motions to suppress evidence are considered dispositive matters, a magistrate judge's recommendation regarding such a motion is subject to de novo review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980). In conducting a de novo review, this court may then “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Craft, 30 F.3d 1044, 1045 (8th Cir. 1994).


         After a de novo review of the evidence, the court finds the pertinent facts to be as follows:

         On June 8, 2015, Taylor was released to parole from a South Dakota state conviction. During his initial parole meeting, Taylor's parole officer, Heather Buiter, explained the terms and conditions of Taylor's parole to him. Docket 41-1. Taylor's mother was also present during the meeting. Id. Buiter explained to Taylor that “drugs, guns, violence and lying were all rule infractions of supervision.” Id. Taylor expressed to Buiter that he had outgrown his aggressive past. Taylor then executed a Standard South Dakota Parole Supervision Agreement (parole agreement). Id. The parole agreement contained the following conditions: that Taylor would not possess, purchase, or use marijuana, narcotics, controlled substances or drug paraphernalia; that Taylor would not own, purchase, or possess dangerous weapons; that Taylor would avoid companions with criminal influences; that Taylor would comply with all instructions of his parole agent in matters affecting his supervision and cooperate fully and truthfully in answering his parole agent's inquiries; that Taylor would not purchase or consume alcohol and would not enter establishments whose primary business was the sale of intoxicating beverages; and that Taylor would refrain from assaultive, abusive, or violent behavior and threats of violence. Exhibit A. Taylor also agreed to submit his person, property, place of residence, vehicle, and personal effects to search and seizure at any time, with or without a search warrant, when reasonable suspicion is determined by a parole agent or law enforcement officer. Taylor was paroled to live with his parents at a home on Menlo Avenue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Buiter met with Taylor once a month during his supervision.

         On June 28, 2015, Buiter received a phone call from a Brandon, South Dakota police officer informing Buiter that Taylor had been involved in a bar fight and received a broken nose. Id. Taylor's presence at the bar was a violation of the terms of his agreement. As punishment for violating his agreement by being at a bar, Buiter placed Taylor in the Community Transition Program (CTP)[1] for one month. Id.

         On July 31, 2015, Buiter informed Taylor that he could move back into his house on Menlo Avenue if his parents did not live with him. Id. Buiter did not want Taylor's mother and stepfather to live with him because they were present at the bar in Brandon on the night of the bar fight. Id. Taylor verbally agreed with Buiter that his parents would move out of the Menlo Avenue house and only Taylor and his girlfriend, Talissa Toft, would live in the home. Buiter noted this verbal agreement in her case notes.

         On January 30, 2016, Buiter received an email from Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) Detective Skidmore. In the email, Detective Skidmore stated that he received information from a confidential informant regarding Taylor. The confidential informant told Detective Skidmore the following: Taylor had multiple guns in his home; Taylor drove an older style Cadillac with paper plates and that Taylor may have a gun in the car; Taylor was selling drugs out of his Menlo Avenue home; and he or she had been in a dispute with Taylor and did not want to file a police report because he or she was afraid Taylor would retaliate. Id.; Docket 55.

         After receiving the email from Detective Skidmore, Buiter contacted the SFPD narcotics unit. Docket 41-1. The narcotics unit informed Buiter that there was a Crime Stoppers report on the home. Id. Buiter testified that she did not ask any follow-up questions about the Crime Stoppers report and that she did not rely on the Crime Stoppers report when forming her reasonable suspicion. See Docket 54 at 42. Buiter then decided to conduct a parole search of Taylor's home.

         Buiter based her decision to search the Menlo Avenue home on a number of circumstances. First, Taylor indicated in his initial meeting that he had put his violent past behind him, but a few weeks later, he went to a bar and got in a bar fight. Second, Detective Skidmore's email led Buiter to believe that Taylor possessed guns and drugs. Third, the confidential informant had indicated that Taylor threatened him or her and he or she was afraid Taylor would retaliate. Based on these circumstances, Buiter suspected that Taylor had violated the terms of his parole agreement by possessing guns and drugs and engaging in violent behavior. Buiter ...

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