United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VÁZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Reconsider his Motion to Suppress Evidence and Supporting
Memorandum. [Doc. 32] The Court, having considered the
Motion, relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed,
finds that the motion is not well-taken and will be
Trujillo was charged in a two-count Indictment with
Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams and More of a
Mixture and Substance Containing Methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(B), and Possession of a Firearm During the
Commission of Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c). [Doc. 11] On January 11, 2018, Mr.
Trujillo filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, seeking to
exclude evidence seized by law enforcement authorities
following a traffic stop and subsequent inventory search of
his vehicle on December 6, 2017. [Doc. 15] On January 24,
2018, the United States filed a Response in opposition to Mr.
Trujillo's Motion to Suppress. [Doc. 17]. On January 26,
2018, Mr. Trujillo filed a Reply to the United States'
Response. [Doc. 19].
Court held an evidentiary hearing on May 8, 2018, and took
the Motion under advisement. [Doc. 25] Deputy Mitchell
Skroch, Drug Enforcement Agent Jeffrey Mauldin, and Captain
Andrea Taylor testified at the May hearing. [See
Doc. 30 (Hearing Transcript (“Tr.”))]
Skroch testified about the arrest and search of Mr. Trujillo.
[See generally Tr. at 6-22] He read Mr. Trujillo the
Miranda warning upon placing him under arrest. [Tr.
at 16:21- 17:2, 24:2-19] Deputy Skroch discussed his
knowledge of Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department's
policy on towing procedures and inventory searches, and how
he applied it when determining whether to search Mr.
Trujillo's locked green backpack. [Tr. at 19:5-13, 24:21-
25:25] Finally, Deputy Skroch was presented with a lock and
key, and used the key to open the lock that would otherwise
not open. [Tr. at 26:1-27:3].
did not object to the demonstration. Mr. Trujillo, through
counsel, cross-examined Deputy Skroch about his pursuit,
arrest, and search of Mr. Trujillo. [See generally
Tr. at 29-33] He also questioned Deputy Skroch about the
department's inventory search policy. [See
generally Tr. at 33-38] Defense did not alert the Court
that the lock presented was not the lock that he believed
Deputy Skroch damaged in order to open Mr. Trujillo's
green backpack. Defense did question the deputy as to how the
key presented at the hearing had been inventoried, but asked
no follow up questions of Deputy Skroch when he stated he did
not personally find the key. [Tr. at 40:19-21]
Court then inquired why Deputy Skroch believed the lock had
been damaged when, at the hearing, the lock appeared to
function as designed. [Tr. at 39:19-40:15] He explained that
he pulled on the lock and believed “it broke, ”
so that is what he noted in his report. [Tr. at 39:23- 40:1,
Enforcement Agent Jeffrey Mauldin testified that the lock and
key came into his possession on the morning of the incident
and remained in his possession up until the hearing. [Tr. at
42:18-43:20]. Defense counsel did not object to Agent
Mauldin's testimony, nor cross-examine him. [Tr. at 44:5,
46:21] The Court questioned Agent Mauldin about where he
found the lock and key, and whether he had knowledge that the
lock was believed to be damaged. [Tr. at 44:6-46:17] Agent
Mauldin found the key on the table on the morning of the
incident. He did not check the lock before submitting the
affidavit [Tr. at 46:4-6], and stated that it had not been
checked until the Friday before the hearing when both counsel
and Agent Mauldin viewed it in Agent Mauldin's office.
Andrea Taylor testified on direct examination regarding the
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department's inventory
search procedures and training, as well as the policies
behind them. [See generally Tr. at 47-52, 57] Mr.
Trujillo, through counsel, cross-examined Captain Taylor on
the same, paying particular attention to whether the
Department had a written policy on opening or breaking locks
before bringing containers or locks to evidence. [See
generally Tr. at 54-56; see 55:17-56:5] The
Court then questioned Captain Taylor about whether Mr.
Trujillo's arrest was mandatory or discretionary. [Tr. at
58:7-8, 22-23] Captain Taylor responded that the arrest was
discretionary, and that the factors that go into the
determination of whether to arrest are also discretionary.
[Tr. 58:24, 59:15-24]
October 29, 2018, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order denying the exclusion of statements and evidence found
after an inventory search of Mr. Trujillo's vehicle on
December 6, 2017. [Doc. 31] In addition to finding that the
lock in question was not damaged, the Court concluded that
Deputy Skroch was following clear policies by the Bernalillo
County Sheriff's Department that requires officers to
conduct a complete inventory of all property before a vehicle
is towed or items are entered into evidence. [Doc. 31 at 11]
The Court found Deputy Skroch's testimony credible, and
found no reason to believe that he was “rummaging in
order to discover incriminating evidence.” [Doc. 31 at
14 (citing Florida v. Wells, 495 U.S. 1 (1990))]
October 31, 2018, Mr. Trujillo filed the instant Motion to
Reconsider his Motion to Suppress Evidence and Supporting
Memorandum. [Doc. 32] The government filed a Response on
November 7, 2018. [Doc. 35] Defense did not file a Reply.
well-established in this Circuit that, although the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure do not expressly authorize a
motion for reconsideration, such motions are proper in
criminal cases. See United States v. Christy, 739
F.3d 534, 539 (10th Cir. 2014); see also United States v.
Christy, 810 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1249 (D.N.M. 2011)
(Browning, J.) (stating that in the criminal context,
“courts ordinarily apply the same standards as those
used in civil cases” for motions to reconsider),
aff'd, 739 F.3d 534 (10th Cir. 2014). A district
court thus may amend its interlocutory orders prior to entry
of final judgment. See, e.g., Van Skiver v.
United States, 952 F.2d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 1991)
(“The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not recognize
a ‘motion to reconsider.' Instead, the rules allow
a litigant subject to an adverse judgment to file either a
motion to alter or amend the judgment . . . or a motion
seeking relief from the judgment.”); Trujillo v.
Bd. of Educ. of Albuquerque Pub. Sch., 212 Fed.Appx.
760, 765 (10th Cir. 2007) (“A district court has
discretion to revise interlocutory orders prior to entry of
final judgment.”). Hence, “[w]hen a party seeks
to obtain reconsideration of a non-final order, the motion is
considered ‘an interlocutory motion invoking the
district court's general discretionary authority to
review and revise interlocutory rulings prior to entry of
final judgment.'” Wagner Equip. Co. v.
Wood, 289 F.R.D. 347, 349 (D.N.M. 2013) (quoting
Wagoner v. Wagoner, 938 F.2d 1120, 1122 n.1 (10th
Cir. 1991)). The Court's authority, then, is sustained by