United States v. Morris Wise

Case: 16-20808 Document: 00514262147 Page: 1 Date Filed: 12/06/2017 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals No. 16-20808 Fifth Circuit FILED December 6, 2017 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Plaintiff–Appellant, v. MORRIS ALEXANDER WISE, Defendant–Appellee. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Before CLEMENT, PRADO, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges. EDWARD C. PRADO, Circuit Judge: We REVERSE the district court’s decision to grant Defendant–Appellee Morris Wise’s motion to suppress. Wise was traveling on a Greyhound bus when police officers performed a bus interdiction at a Conroe, Texas bus stop. Officers boarded the Greyhound, and Wise aroused an officer’s suspicion. The officer questioned Wise about his luggage. Two pieces of luggage were stored in the luggage rack above Wise’s head. Wise claimed only one piece of luggage as his own; no one claimed the second piece. The officers removed the unclaimed article from the bus, and they determined that the luggage contained cocaine. The officers asked Wise to leave the bus. He complied. Off the bus, officers asked Wise to empty his pockets. He complied. Wise gave the officers an identification card with the Case: 16-20808 Document: 00514262147 Page: 2 Date Filed: 12/06/2017 No. 16-20808 name “Morris Wise” on it. He also gave the officers a lanyard with keys; one key connected Wise to the backpack. The officers then arrested Wise. Wise moved to suppress the evidence that officers found in his pockets. Following a suppression hearing, the district court suppressed all evidence obtained during the bus search. The district court found that the officers had established an unconstitutional checkpoint stop. The court also concluded that the bus driver did not voluntarily consent to the bus search. I. BACKGROUND A. Factual Background 1 On September 15, 2011, Conroe Police Department officers stationed themselves at a Greyhound bus stop located in Conroe, Texas, in order to perform bus interdictions. Bus interdictions typically involve law enforcement officers boarding a bus to speak with suspicious-looking passengers. The officers aim to discover individuals transporting narcotics, weapons, or other contraband. If the officers suspect criminal activity, they ask a passenger for his identification and boarding pass; they may also ask whether the passenger has any luggage with him. During the interdiction, passengers may leave the bus. They may also refuse to speak with officers. That day, five Conroe Police Department officers were present at the Greyhound bus stop. Four officers were dressed in plainclothes—civilian clothes that do not include any markings of being a police officer—and concealed their weapons and badges. The remaining officer, a uniformed canine handler, was accompanied by a trained narcotics-detection canine. 1The district court did not make extensive findings of fact in either its suppression order or opinion on suppression. The facts come primarily from the suppression hearing testimony of two Conroe Police Department officers who questioned and subsequently arrested Wise. 2 Case: 16-20808 Document: 00514262147 Page: 3 Date Filed: 12/06/2017 No. 16-20808 That same ...

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