This is a paper dealing with search and seizure laws relevant tot Constitutional Law

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Bob Chattin


Criminal Law and Procedure

Dr. Smith-Alder

United States v. Coffman


Final decision

I.Proceedings Below:

Appellant was charged in the United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri, Cause Number: 4:97CR344 for violations of 21 USCA 841(d)(1) and 18 USC 922(9)(1). The gun charge under 18 USC 922(9)(1) was dropped as a result of a plea agreement, and the Appellant entered a conditional guilty plea under Rule 11 F.R.C.P. The conditional plea left open the question of wrongful seizure for the appeal. A guilty plea was entered on December 8, 1997, and sentencing was had on February 13, 1998. Notice of appeal was filed with the district clerk on February 18, 1998.


U.S. Deputy Marshals Luke Alder and Brian McKee were assigned to track and retrieve Ray Braddy for failing to show up for his court appearance. While conducting this investigation a confidential source suggested that a convicted felon, John Lee Coffman, associated and helped manufacture drugs with Ray Braddy and might be able to aid them in their investigation.

With this new information the two Deputy Marshals decided to question Coffman on the whereabouts of Ray Braddy.

On March 15, 1996, the two deputies arrived at the Coffman residence with the intent to question him. They also had learned that Coffman lived with an unstable and "wild" woman. Upon knocking on the door and identifying themselves Coffman agreed for the deputies to enter for the purpose of questioning the Appellant. Upon entering the trailer the deputies noticed an empty handgun holster hanging on one of the chairs. The deputies asked if they could conduct a protective sweep of the apartment to ensure their own personal safety to which Coffman told them the place was "clean" and that they could take a look for themselves. Appellant...