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Date: 07-05-2022

Case Style:

United States of America v. Robert James Davis, Jr.

Case Number: 1:21-cr-110

Judge: Travis R. McDonough

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Hamilton County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Chattanooga, Tennessee criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with unlawful transportation of firearms.

Defendant Robert James Davis, Jr. filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained pursuant a search of his vehicle and certain incriminating statements he made to law enforcement. United States Magistrate Judge Christopher H. Steger held a hearing and filed a report and recommendation, recommending that the Court deny in part and grant in part the motion to suppress. Defendant timely objected, and the Government responded.

Defendant objects to Magistrate Judge Steger's finding that Officer Roncin did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights when he searched his vehicle. As Magistrate Judge Steger's report and recommendation explains, and consistent with the evidence presented at the suppression hearing, the community-caretaker exception to the warrant requirement permitted Officer Roncin to open the door to Defendant's vehicle without a warrant to determine whether there was a medical emergency. See United States v. Lewis, 869 F.3d 460, 463 (6th Cir. 2017). And, although approximately twenty-eight seconds elapsed between the time the car door opened and when Officer Roncin asked Defendant about how much he had to drink, Officer Roncin credibly testified at the suppression hearing that he smelled the odor of alcohol and marijuana “immediately” when the car door was opened. As a result, Officer Roncin had probable cause to search the vehicle without a warrant. See, e.g., United States v. Foster, 376 F.3d 577, 588 (6th Cir. 2004) (“[W]hen the officers detected the smell of marijuana coming from Foster's vehicle, this provided them with probable cause to search the vehicle without a warrant.”); United States v. Avant, 650 Fed.Appx. 890, 892 (6th Cir. 2016) (“We have held that an officer's detection of the smell of marijuana in an automobile can by itself establish probable cause for a search.”). Accordingly, Defendant's objection to Magistrate Judge Steger's finding that Officer Roncin's search of his vehicle did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights is OVERRULED.

For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's objections to Magistrate Judge Steger's report and recommendation (Doc. 28) are OVERRULED. The Court ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the report and recommendation (Doc. 27) and GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's motion to suppress (Doc. 17). Specifically, Defendants motion to suppress is (1) DENIED as to all physical evidence seized from the search of Defendant's [vehicle] and his person on [January 2, 2021], at the Circle K convenience store and gas station in Hixson, Tennessee; (2) DENIED as to all statements Defendant made on [January 2, 2021], at the Circle K in Hixson, Tennessee, subject to the following exception; and (3) GRANTED as to Defendant's response to Officer Roncin's question as to why Defendant believed he was going to prison.

Additionally, the following new trial schedule is ORDERED:

1. Plea Bargaining shall be concluded by July 25, 2022, and any written agreement shall be executed by said date.

2. All motions shall be filed no later than July 25, 2022.

3. All requests for jury instructions shall be submitted no later than August 8, 2022. The parties shall confer and submit a joint proposal for jury instructions. Before submitting the joint proposal to the Court, the parties must attempt to resolve any disagreements. To the extent there are disagreements as to specific instructions that cannot be resolved, the parties should provide competing instructions in their joint proposal. All jury instructions in the joint proposal, including agreed instructions and competing instructions, shall be supported by citations of authority. A copy of the proposed jury instructions should be sent in Microsoft Word format to

4. A final pretrial conference shall be held before the United States District Judge at 3:00 p.m. on August 8, 2022, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At or before the final pretrial conference, all parties shall provide a notebook to the Court with exhibits they expect to offer during their cases-in-chief. Each party should also file a written submission advising the Court: (1) how and by whom each document will be authenticated, and (2) the theory of admissibility for the document, with appropriate references to the Federal Rules of Evidence. At the final pretrial conference, the parties should also be prepared to advise the Court whether they intend to offer any out-of-court statements as evidence beyond what is reflected in the exhibit notebook and be prepared to explain why each statement is not barred by the rule against hearsay, the Confrontation Clause, or any other basis. The parties should also be prepared to discuss evidence relating to a crime, wrong, or other act by the defendant, whether that evidence is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)(2), and whether the Government has given appropriate notice. The parties shall also disclose to one another and to the Court the technology they intend to use in the courtroom during the trial and how they intend to use it (e.g., display equipment, data storage, retrieval, or presentation devices). This disclosure shall list: (1) the equipment the parties intend to bring into the courtroom to use and (2) the equipment supplied by the Court the parties intend to use. Further, the parties shall disclose to one another the content of their electronic or digital materials by the time of the final pretrial conference and shall confirm the compatibility/viability of their planned use of technology with the Court's equipment by the final pretrial conference. General information regarding equipment supplied by the Court is available on the Eastern District of Tennessee website ( Specific questions about Court-supplied equipment should be directed to the courtroom deputy (directory available on website).

5. The trial of this case will be held before the United States District Judge and a twelve-person jury beginning on August 15, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. If this case is not heard immediately, it will be held in line until the following day or any time during the week of the scheduled trial date.

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