United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendants' Motions to Reconsider, No.
2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 88; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No.
90. The motions were heard without oral argument.
was a consolidated interlocutory appeal from an Order entered
by the magistrate court granting Defendants' motions to
suppress evidence of personal drug possession seized from
their purses during an administrative search conducted at the
entrance to the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) office in Spokane. No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR,
ECF No. 45; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 44. The underlying
facts are recited in the Court's previous Order and will
not be restated here. No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 84; No.
2:16-po-00108JTR, ECF No. 86. Defendants request
reconsideration of the Court's Order reversing the
magistrate court's ruling suppressing evidence seized
during an administrative search and remanding for further
proceedings. No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 84; No.
2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 86. Defendants specifically
challenge two aspects of the Court's Order: (1) that the
Court found an x-ray machine would have detected drugs
contained in Defendants' respective purses; and (2) that
Defendants did not challenge the magistrate court's
findings that there is no discretion invested in the
searching security officers nor a secondary impermissible
purpose to the administrative search.
the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not expressly
authorize the filing of motions for reconsideration, the
Ninth Circuit has held that post-judgment motions for
reconsideration may be filed in criminal cases. United
States v. Martin, 226 F.3d 1042, 1047 n.7 (9th Cir.
2000). “Courts have held that motions for
reconsideration in criminal cases are governed by the rules
that govern equivalent motions in civil proceedings.”
U.S.A. v. Krug, No. CR09-01148-MMM, 2012 WL
12973474, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 24, 2012).
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court can grant
relief on a motion for reconsideration under Rule 59 or Rule
60. First, a party may ask the Court to reconsider and amend
a previous order. Fed R. Civ. P. 59(e) offers “an
extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests
of finality and conservation of judicial resources.”
Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir.
2003). A Rule 59(e) motion may be granted when: (1) there is
an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the moving
party presents newly discovered or previously unavailable
evidence; and (3) the motion is necessary to correct manifest
errors of law or fact upon which the judgment is based.
Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d
1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003). Defendants rely on Rule 59 in
making their motions.
Defendants contend that the Court committed manifest error in
finding that x-ray machines would have uncovered the presence
of illegal narcotics in Defendants' respective purses.
This finding was contained in a footnote wherein “[t]he
Court notes that evidence of methamphetamine and drug
paraphernalia uncovered during an administrative search of
Defendants would also have been uncovered during an x-ray
inspection of their property.” No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR,
ECF No. 84, at 7 n.1; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 86, at 7
n.1. Defendants suggest that there is no evidence in the
record to support this finding. A manifest error of fact is
“[a]n error that is plain and indisputable, and that
amounts to a complete disregard of the controlling law or the
credible evidence in the record.” Error,
Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). A district court
does not commit clear error warranting reconsideration
“when the question before it is a debatable one.”
Monterey Bay Military Housing, LLC v. Pinnacle Monterey
LLC, No. 14-cv-03953-BLF, 2015 WL 1548833, at *5 (N.D.
Cal. Apr. 7, 2015).
the magistrate court received evidence that x-ray machines
have the capability of detecting powders; normally, blasting
powder would show as a grayish red color, and white powders
as a bluish color. No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 75-1, at
90; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 77-1, at 90. Specifically
with regard to the methamphetamine contained in
Defendants' property, if either of Defendants'
containers containing methamphetamine passed through an x-ray
machine, it would “show up as a bluish white blob
inside the container.” No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No.
75-1 at 91; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 77-1, at 91. At
that point, Officer Curtis testified that he “would
take that container out of the bag so [he] didn't have
all the other stuff in there, run it through the x-ray
machine to verify, see if [he] could identify it. If [he]
still can't identify it, [he] would have to go in that
bag.” No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 75-1, at 91; No.
2:16-po-00108JTR, ECF No. 77-1, at 91. Based on the testimony
before the magistrate court, this Court cannot say that it
completely disregarded credible evidence in the record in
stating that an x-ray machine would have detected the
presence of narcotics contained in Defendants' property.
the relief Defendants' seek would not have any impact on
the Court's ultimate decision. The issue in this appeal
is whether the administrative search scheme employed at the
Spokane SSA is no more extensive nor intensive than
necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the
presence of weapons or explosives. See United States v.
Aukai, 497 F.3d 955, 962 (9th Cir. 2017). A purported
factual finding that an x-ray machine would also have
detected the presence of drugs is inconsequential.
Defendants take issue with the magistrate court's finding
that there is no discretion invested in the security officers
in conducting the search nor a secondary impermissible
purpose to the administrative search. As noted in the
Court's Order, the magistrate court's “findings
of fact are accepted on appeal because they are supported by
substantial evidence in the record, are not clear error, and
neither party challenges them.” No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR,
ECF No. 84, at 6; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR, ECF No. 86, at 6. By
Defendants' own admission, “the Court may only
reach the magistrate court's factual findings if the
Government appealed those findings.” No.
2:16-po-00079-JTR, ECF No. 88, at 2; No. 2:16-po-00108-JTR,
ECF No. 90, at 2. The Government did not do so here.
Defendants cannot now, for the first time, challenge the
magistrate court's finding that there is no discretion
invested in the searching security officers nor a secondary
impermissible purpose to the administrative search at issue
in this case. Moreover, after reviewing the magistrate
court's factual findings for clear error, the Court held
that its findings were supported by substantial evidence in
the record and did not constitute clear error. Even had
Defendants successfully challenged the magistrate court's
finding regarding the alleged impermissible purpose of the
administrative search, this Court has already upheld those
findings on appeal. Defendants do not contend that the Court
committed manifest error in so doing.
motions to reconsider are denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendants' Motions to Reconsider, No. 2:16-po-00079-JTR,
ECF No. 88; No. ...