7th Circuit upholds meth charges after wife’s tip

An indicted man whose wife tipped law enforcement about drugs in their home did not convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that evidence revealed from a search warrant based on her insight violated the Fourth Amendment.

Following a conversation with an officer and a companion, Shon Gibson, a suspected drug trafficker, was briefly detained. After Gibson and his companion left the scene, the officer noticed a methamphetamine pipe under his patrol car and later conducted a traffic stop of Gibson’s car as a result. But no drugs were uncovered from the vehicle despite a K-9’s signal of the presence of a controlled substance.

That same day, Gibson’s wife met with Drug Enforcement Administration agents to tell them about methamphetamine inside the family’s home. She cooperated with the DEA to protect her children and provided weekly information about Gibson.

After the traffic stop occurred near their driveway, DEA agents assured Mrs. Gibson that it was not initiated by their investigation. Information provided by her, however, was later used by local law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for the home that revealed drugs, drug paraphernalia, currency, and AK-47 rifles, all of which led to Gibson’s arrest.

Gibson was ultimately indicted by a grand jury and he moved to suppress all of the evidence seized during the search of his home. Specifically, he alleged that he was detained without reasonable suspicion, unlawfully frisked, arrested without probable cause, stopped without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, and that the traffic stop exceeded a permissible scope.

Additionally, Gibson also argued that his wife’s statement was insufficiently attenuated to justify the search warrant. But a magistrate judge ultimately recommended that the motion be denied and the Northern District Court found Gibson’s arguments unpersuasive.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in USA v. Shon L. Gibson, 19-1402,  finding that the evidence was not obtained as a result of a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“Here, the magistrate judge made findings on three issues: (1) whether the initial encounter with Officer Garrison complied with the Fourth Amendment; (2) whether the traffic stop by Deputy Hartman complied with the Fourth Amendment; and (3) whether Mrs. Gibson’s statement was sufficiently attenuated from any Fourth Amendment violation. The magistrate judge directed the parties to make written objections within fourteen days reminding them that failure to do so waived their right to appeal,” Circuit Judge William Bauer wrote for the 7th Circuit.

“Gibson’s objection related to only the first issue: whether the initial encounter with Officer Garrison complied with the Fourth Amendment. Gibson did not object to the other two findings. The district court correctly reviewed the second and third issues of the traffic stop and attenuation for clear error because of Gibson’s failure to object. Because Gibson failed to raise these two objections to the magistrate judge, they are waived,” it continued.

“The magistrate judge’s findings and conclusions that Mrs. Gibson’s voluntary statement with DEA agents was independently sufficient to sustain findings of probable cause, and sufficiently attenuated from subsequent events to preclude suppression, is conclusively established and accepted by this court as unchallenged,” the 7th Circuit concluded.

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