Archive | Fourth Amendment

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Judge Nathan Grants Suppression in Fraud Case

Southern District Judge Alison Nathan suppressed evidence obtained as a result of “essentially limitless” warrants that were “insufficiently particularized.”  The 92-page opinion in United States v. Wey,  15-cr-611 (AJN), can be accessed here.  Agents executing the searches collected, among other things, personal documents and materials from Wey’s home and office.  The Court found that the “catch-all” gathering of all of this material had no “linkage to the suspected criminal activity, or indeed any meaningful content-based parameter or other limiting principle” and that the Agents’ actions ran afoul of “well-established constitutional principles that provide a bulwark against the execution of general warrants.”  Recognizing that it was and “extraordinary remedy,” the Court ordered suppression of all evidence gathered from both search locations.…


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Categories: Fourth Amendment, search warrant

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Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

“Exigent Circumstances” Includes Potential Sexual Exploitation of a Minor; Allows for GPS Cellphone Tracking

On 12/1/16, the Second Circuit (Newman, Winter & Cabranes) handed down a decision finding that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless GPS tracking of a suspected sex trafficker. In United States v. Gilliam, the defendant, who was suspected of prostituting an underage girl, was located thanks to GPS coordinates on his cellphone provided to the police by Sprint. The girl had been reported missing and her involvement in prostitution was confirmed through credible sources.  During the course of the investigation, the police obtained the GPS location for the defendant’s cellphone from Sprint by informing them that there were “exigent circumstances” and a “missing child.”  GPS tracking led police to the defendant and the girl on a street in the Bronx.

The defendant challenged the use of the GPS information that lead to his location and arrest. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that the Stored Communications Act (18 …


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Categories: Fourth Amendment, sex offenses

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Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

“Precipitous Pepper Purchase” Precludes Pot Pushers’ Partying

peppers

In today’s United States v. Compton, the Second Circuit (Walker, Raggi, Hall, C.JJ.) held a Border Patrol agent had reasonable suspicion to stop Compton and his brother, found to be transporting 145 pounds of marijuana, based on “(1) the brothers’ avoidance of [a Border Patrol] checkpoint, (2) the checkpoint’s proximity to the [Canadian] border, and (3) the brothers’ peculiar attempt to conceal the avoidance.”  The “peculiar attempt” was the brothers’ “abruptly slow[ing] down” when their SUV came within sight of the checkpoint and then “veer[ing] into the U‐shaped driveway of [a] vegetable stand” where they each bought “a pint of peppers.”

“Because [the agent] had already determined that the SUV had made the abrupt turn into the vegetable stand in order to avoid the checkpoint, [he] could reasonably interpret the pepper purchase to be an attempt to conceal that avoidance.  He could reasonably discount the probability of an alternate …


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Categories: Fourth Amendment, reasonable suspicion, terry stop

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Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Supreme Court Again Excuses “Unconstitutional Police Conduct”

whoops

In yesterday’s Utah v. Strieff, five of the eight members of the Supreme Court held the existence of an arrest warrant for someone a police officer unlawfully stops sufficiently “attenuates” the taint of the illegal stop, at least where the stop is not “flagrantly” unconstitutional.

Based on an anonymous tip, a South Salt Lake City police detective conducted “intermittent surveillance” of a house to see if it was being used to sell drugs.  He saw people leave “a few minutes after arriving at the house,” and this “raise[d] his suspicion that the occupants were dealing drugs.”  One day he saw Strieff leave the house; he followed Strieff on foot and stopped him.  When he got Strieff’s ID card and relayed the information to a colleague, he discovered “Strieff had an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation.”  The detective then arrested Strieff and searched him, finding drugs in his …


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Categories: Exclusionary Rule, Fourth Amendment

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Friday, May 27th, 2016

More Thoughts on Ganias

Today there was a big decision (both metaphorically and literally – the decision runs 104-pages) from the Second Circuit in United States v. Ganias about search warrants in an age of digital data. In Ganias, the government seized and made identical copies of three hard drives that belonged to an accountant, Stavros Ganias, pursuant to a warrant (the “2003 warrant”) in a fraud investigation. The government continued to hold the files, even after reviewing them for all relevant information contained in the 2003 warrant. In 2006, the government obtained a second warrant (the “2006 warrant”) as part of an IRS tax evasion investigation and they searched the files anew pursuant to that second warrant.

There were two questions presented:

  1. Whether the fourth amendment was violated when, pursuant to a warrant, the government seized and cloned three computer hard drives containing both responsive and non-responsive files, retained the cloned hard

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Categories: Fourth Amendment, good faith, search warrant

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Woe Betide Those Who Park on the Wrong Side of the Street (and those who produce child pornography)

no-parking-sign-e1446323913593

No relevant opinions today; two summary orders.

In United States v. Grady, Syracuse police noticed that Grady’s car was parked in violation of the city’s odd/even street parking rules.  They approached the car, shone their flashlights inside and saw, in plain view, a bag of crack cocaine on Grady’s lap.  A loaded gun was also found in the car.

Assuming the officers’ approach of the car constituted a stop, the Court (Jacobs, Hall, Lynch, CJJ) held there was reasonable suspicion given the car’s being parked on the wrong side of the street.  Though a car isn’t “parked” if it’s stopped only to load or unload goods or passengers, the officers observed no such activity and the Court held they watched the car for long enough — 10 seconds — before deciding to approach.  “The officers were not required to conduct surveillance long enough to ‘rule out the possibility of …


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Categories: car stop, child pornography, expert witnesses, Fourth Amendment, reasonable suspicion, substantive reasonableness

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Friday, March 11th, 2016

Two Summary Orders on Search and Seizure

No published opinions today; only two summary orders (from the same panel of Katzmann, Sack, and Lohier) rejecting Fourth and Fifth Amendment challenges by the defendant.

In United States v. Mohammed Aleem, No. 15-186, the Court rejected appellant’s argument that evidence obtained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and later used in his prosecution, should have been suppressed because RCMP officers were acting as agents of the U.S. Border Patrol (and because their actions otherwise violated the Fourth Amendment). Relying on United States v. Getto, 729 F.3d 221, 227 (2d Cir. 2013), the Court ruled that “to render foreign law enforcement officials virtual agents of the United States, American officials must play some role in controlling or directing the conduct of the foreign parallel investigation”; “it is not enough that the foreign government undertook its investigation pursuant to an American . . . request.” Order at 3.…


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Categories: Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment

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Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Parole Evidence

United States v. Barner, No. 10-3700-cr (2d Cir. (Sack, Raggi, CJJ, Eaton, JCIT)

This decision, a government appeal, reverses a district court order suppressing evidence obtained during a parole search.

Barner was released to New York State parole in 2007, and signed a Certificate of Release that included his consent to having his parole officer visit him at home and search and inspect his person, residence and property. Barner was also forbidden from possessing any sort of firearm, ammunition or body armor, and was subject to a curfew.

In early 2008, someone called Barner’s parole officer and told her that Barner had fired a gun at him. She and other officers tried to reach Barner at home that night – during his curfew period – but Barner was not there. This prompted Barner to obtain a parole violation arrest warrant. Two days later, Barner reported for his weekly appointment with …


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Categories: Fourth Amendment, parole search, special needs, Uncategorized

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Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Summers-Time Blues

United States v. Bailey, No. 07-3819-cr (2d Cir. July 6, 2011) (Cabranes, Pooler, Raggi, CJJ)

In Michigan v Summers, 452 U.S. 602 (1981), the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment permitted police officers to detain the occupant of a premises during the execution of a search warrant, without need for individualized suspicion of the person detained. Here, the circuit, joining an issue in which the courts are divided, held that Summers also permits detaining the occupants after they have left the premises.

Background

In July of 2005, Suffolk County detectives obtained a search warrant for a basement apartment in Wyandanch, based on an informant’s tip that there was a gun there. When they arrived at the location to execute the warrant, they saw Bailey and an associate exiting the apartment. They drove off and the officers followed; about a mile from the apartment, the officers stopped Bailey’s car.

The …


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Categories: detention, Fourth Amendment, search warrant, Uncategorized

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Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

PATRIOT Games

United States v. Abu-Jihaad, No. 09-1375-cr (2d Cir. December 20, 2010) (Raggi, Hall, Chin, CJJ)

Defendant Hassan Abu-Jihaad, whose birth name was Paul R. Hall, was convicted of communicating national defense information about the movement of a Navy battlegroup to unauthorized persons. On appeal, his primary challenge was to the use of evidence that the government obtained pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”). The circuit affirmed.

Background

Despite changing his last name from “Hall” to “Abu-Jihaad,” which, according to the court, means “Father of Jihad,” the defendant enlisted in the Navy in January of 1998 without any trouble. For the next four years he was cleared to receive classified national defense information. But a chain of circumstantial evidence revealed that, in 2001, he passed classified information about the movement of Navy ships headed for the Persian Gulf to other jihad supporters.

The investigation of Abu-Jihaad began after the …


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Categories: FISA, Fourth Amendment, Uncategorized

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Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Julius’ Seizure

United States v. Julius, No. 08-4267-cr (2d Cir. June 11, 2010) (Pooler, Hall, CJJ, Sweet, DJ)

Here, the district court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress a gun seized during Julius’ arrest on a parole violation. on the government’s appeal, the circuit remanded for reconsideration in light of Herring v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 695 (2009).

In 2007, Julius violated the conditions of a term of special parole imposed after a state court conviction in Connecticut. He had failed to attend court-mandated counseling sessions and had changed his residence but refused to disclose his new address to his parole officer.

The officer finally found Julius at his girlfriend’s house, where the officer, accompanied by another parole officer and a deputy marshal found him lying on a bed in a back bedroom. They arrested him without incident. As an officer removed him from the room, in handcuffs, the marshal searched the …


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Categories: Exclusionary Rule, Fourth Amendment, Uncategorized

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