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Dawkins v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

February 5, 2015

JONATHAN F. DAWKINS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued: November 19, 2014.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF2-5420-09). (Hon. Lynn Leibovitz, Trial Judge).

Shilpa S. Satoskar, Public Defender Service, with whom James Klein and Jaclyn S. Frankfurt, Public Defender Service, were on the brief, for appellant.

Nicholas P. Coleman, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, Elizabeth Trosman, Chrisellen R. Kolb, and Brandon Long, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before WASHINGTON, Chief Judge, BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judge, and FERREN, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Ferren, Senior Judge.

This is Jonathan F. Dawkins' second appeal from the denial of his motion to suppress evidence of a gun and ammunition proffered by the government pursuant to an indictment for carrying a pistol without a license[1] and two related charges.[2] Dawkins now alleges that during a remand proceeding ordered by this court, the trial court improperly relied upon a government proffer in ruling on the suppression motion. We affirm.

I.

Dawkins entered a guilty plea to all charges, subject, however, to the right to appeal denial of his suppression motion. On Dawkins' first appeal, this court vacated the trial court's order denying the motion, as well as the judgment of conviction (but not the guilty plea).[3] We remanded

Page 1242

the case for the trial court (i) to hear a proffer from Dawkins on the relevance of his proposed cross-examination of the arresting officer for bias, allegedly derived from a lawsuit by a third party against the officer for false arrest; [4] and (ii) to exercise the court's discretion, either by denying the motion to suppress once more, or by granting it to allow vacation of the guilty plea.[5]

In this appeal, however, Dawkins contends, more broadly, that the purpose of the remand was to " make a complete record," and thus that the appeal before us is not limited to alleged bias derived from the third party false arrest suit (indeed, Dawkins does not appeal the trial court's ruling for the government on that issue).[6] In addition, contends Dawkins, the trial court was obliged to reopen a second line of questioning justified by an earlier encounter that Dawkins had experienced with the same Officer Solgat who arrested him in this case. That encounter, in 2007, had led to Dawkins' arrest and conviction for assaulting a police officer (APO)[7]--an encounter, says Dawkins, that not only generated Officer Solgat's bias against him but also undermined the government's contention that Dawkins had voluntarily consented to the search that yielded the gun and ammunition at issue here.

At the hearing on remand, the trial court permitted some inquiry into the 2007, incident, after which defense counsel confirmed that she had asked all her questions of Officer Solgat about bias. When counsel tried to ask the officer questions pertaining to the voluntariness of Dawkins' consent, however, the court prohibited further cross-examination of Officer Solgat about the 2007 arrest. The court observed that this incident had " no relevance" because it failed to indicate that Dawkins " was less likely to consent later [in this case] or that the officer was more likely to fabricate today." Nonetheless, the court offered counsel an additional opportunity to proffer " what I would have heard about 2007 and how it would have been relevant to the issues before me." Counsel made the following proffer:

The 2007 incident, it's an incident where Officer Solgat approached Mr. Dawkins where Mr. Dawkins hadn't done anything wrong and Officer Solgat wasn't claiming [Mr. Dawkins] was doing anything wrong. He ordered Mr. Dawkins to remove his hands from his pockets, according to the ...

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