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Pearson v. Medeiros

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 21, 2017

SEAN MEDEIROS, Superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, Respondent.




         Washington Pearson ("Pearson") is serving two state prison sentences concurrently: one for breaking and, entering and another for larceny over $250. He has petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254, arguing that he was not afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate his Fourth Amendment claim because the Massachusetts Appeals Court ("Appeals Court") failed to analyze a police officer's subjective intent under the independent source doctrine. Pet. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Writ Habeas Corpus ("Pet."), ECF No. 1. Sean Medeiros ("Medeiros"), the superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, opposes the petition in its entirety, arguing that Pearson's claim was indeed subject to a full and fair litigation in state court, including an evidentiary hearing before trial and a full appeal. Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Dismiss. ("Resp't's Mem.") 4-7, ECF No. 18. For the reasons discussed below, this Court GRANTS Medeiros's motion to dismiss.

         A. Procedural History

         On April 4, 2014, in the Massachusetts Superior Court sitting in and for the County of Norfolk, a jury convicted Pearson of four counts of breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony during the daytime in violation of Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 266, section 18, and four counts of larceny over $250 in violation of Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 266, section 30(1). Commonwealth v. Pearson, 90 Mass.App.Ct. 289, 290 (2016). Pearson was sentenced to concurrent state prison terms of six to eight years for breaking and entering, and four and a half to five years for larceny. Mem. Law Supp. Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, Ex. 20, Apr. 9, 2016 Sentencing Tr. 25-26, ECF No. 3-20.

         Pearson appealed on the ground that "the trial court denied his motion to suppress based on a flawed application of the independent source doctrine." Mem. Law Supp. Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus ("Pet'r's Mem.") 5, ECF No. 3. On September 20, 2016, the Appeals Court affirmed the trial court's decision. Pearson, 90 Mass.App.Ct. at 294. Pearson's application for leave to obtain further appellate review in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was denied on November 30, 2016. Commonwealth v. Pearson, 476 Mass. 1105 (2016).

         On January 25, 2017, Pearson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court under 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Pet.; Pet'r's Mem. Medeiros moved to dismiss. Resp't Medeiros's Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 17; Resp't's Mem.

         B. Factual Background [1]

         From January 31, 2012 through February 8, 2012, the Brookline police responded to five reports of residential breaking and entering. Pearson, 90 Mass.App.Ct. at 290. Victims reported valuables missing, including jewelry and credit cards. Id. One victim reported that his stolen credit card had been fraudulently used at a number of local retailers. Id. Surveillance footage from three of these stores showed a Hispanic female in her mid-to-late thirties using the card; footage from the fourth store depicted a woman in a different outfit but with a similar appearance using the card. Id. A store employee told the police that the woman had been accompanied by a dark-skinned black male, estimated to be in his mid-to-late thirties.

         On February 7, 2012, the Brookline police responded to a breaking and entering in Cambridge, where a driver's license for Jenell Johnson ("Johnson'') was found. Id. The victim said that she did not know Johnson. Id. Using information from Johnson's driver's license, the police found booking photographs from a 2011 breaking and entering. Id. at 290-91. The 2011 incident had resulted in the arrests of Johnson and Washington. Id. at 291. The police determined that Johnson and Washington's 2011 booking photographs corresponded with the appearance of the suspects in the surveillance footage. Id. An employee from one of the retail stores was given a photo array and identified Johnson and Washington as the customers making fraudulent purchases. Id.

         The police reported to Johnson and Washington's residence on February 9, 2012, stating that they had warrants for the two suspects' arrests. Id. Johnson answered the door, was taken into custody, and advised of her Miranda rights. Id. At the officers' request, Johnson directed the police to a bedroom with items allegedly purchased with the stolen credit card. Id. The officers observed items matching the description of fraudulently purchased merchandise and stolen goods in plain view. Id. The officers asked Johnson for her consent to search the apartment. Id. Johnson refused, stating that it was not her home and any items inside might not belong to her. Id. The officers apprehended Washington in a third floor bathroom. Id.

         Johnson and Washington were arrested and taken to police headquarters while officers remained at the home to secure the premises and await a search warrant. Id. While there, the police spoke with the homeowner, who identified himself as Johnson's stepfather. Id. He told the officers that Washington had stayed at the residence for the past five or six weeks. Johnson's stepfather also noted that he had discovered a bag in a trash can outside of the house with silverware, jewelry bags, and a prescription bottle with the name of one of the breaking and entering victims. Id.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. ...

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