Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Mastin: Extending Rule of Michigan v. Summers from Search Warrants to Arrest Warrants

 In United States v. Mastin, No. 18-14241 (Aug. 26, 2020) (Grant, William Pryor, Antoon), the Court affirmed the defendant’s felon in possession conviction.

 The Court upheld the denial of a motion to suppress the gun.  The gun fell out of the defendant’s waistband after the police ordered him to get on the ground and crawl out of a hotel room where the officers were executing arrest warrants on others.  First, the Court explained that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the officers could enter the hotel room to carry out the arrest warrants because they had a reasonable belief that it was the suspects’ dwelling and that one of them was there.  Second, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that it was unreasonable to require him to crawl out of the room, because officers may briefly detain those on the premises not only while they execute a search warrant but also while they execute an arrest warrant.  In so holding, the Court extended the Supreme Court’s decision in Michigan v. Summers in a manner that the Ninth Circuit had not.

The Court also rejected the defendant’s argument that he was deprived of a fair trial because the court limited his right to cross examine a police witness and develop his defense theory.  The Court found no abuse of discretion because the questions he wanted to ask would not have been probative of bias and would have confused the jury.