Archive | probable cause

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Nuanced Second Circuit Opinion on Dissipated Probable Cause & McLaughlin Violations

The Second Circuit issued two criminal opinions today, both of which we will cover this week. In one, United States v. Pabon, the Circuit rejected a set of Fourth Amendment challenges where police obtained a CT scan which revealed that the defendant was body-packing narcotics. The opinion, available here, is as notable for what it does not hold as for what it does.

In Pabon, police obtained a search warrant authorizing an x-ray of the defendant’s lower abdomen to determine whether he was body-packing narcotics. Based on the x-ray, an emergency room physician reported that body-packing was “unlikely.” A detective nevertheless obtained a search warrant for a CT scan based on his testimony that the x-ray results were consistent with those he had observed in other body-packing cases. The CT scan suggested body-packing, and the defendant was given laxatives that led him to pass eight packages of …


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Categories: car stop, Exclusionary Rule, Fourth Amendment, probable cause, search warrant

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Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Stop and Flop

United States v. Wilson, No. 11-915 (2d Cir. October 25, 2012) (Jacobs, Calabresi, Pooler, CJJ)

Defendant Wilson was subject to a car stop near New York’s border with Canada. He was just outside of the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, not a member of the tribe, and the officers who stopped the car – which was registered to a known marijuana dealer – were members of the tribal police department. As tribal officers, under state law they were without authority to exercise police duties outside of the reservation, although one of them was also cross-designated as a U.S. Customers Officer by ICE. After a brief interview, in which Wilson admitted traveling into and out of Canada, and scoring a bit of weed while there, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent, who had arrived after the stop, searched Wilson’s car and found three bags of marijuana.

The district court suppressed the evidence, …


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Categories: car stop, probable cause, Uncategorized

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Friday, March 11th, 2011

A Good-Faith-Based Decision

United States v. Clark, No. 09-3462-cr (2d Cir. March 8, 2011) (Sack, Raggi, Lynch, CJJ)

In the district court, defendant Clark moved to suppress physical evidence and statements obtained after execution of a search warrant, and the district court granted the motion. On this, the government’s appeal, the circuit agreed that the warrant was defective – it did not establish probable cause – but that, contrary to the district court’s conclusion, the good faith exception applied. The court accordingly reversed and remanded.

Background

Local police officers in Niagara Falls, New York, obtained a warrant from a city court judge to search Clark and “1015 Fairfield Ave, being a multi family dwelling” for drugs and drug dealing paraphernalia. The supporting affidavit disclosed that an informant of “unknown reliability” told them that Clark was selling cocaine there, and that Clark had “full control” over the location. The affidavit also described two controlled …


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Categories: good faith, probable cause, Uncategorized

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Monday, January 19th, 2009

Crosswalk Puzzle

United States v. Stewart, No. 07-3003-cr (2d Cir. January 8, 2009) (Winter, Miner, Cabranes, CJJ)

Brett Stewart was a passenger in a livery cab that stopped at a red light. Two police officers claimed that the cab’s front wheels ended up in the crosswalk, a traffic violation. They pulled over the cab and recovered a gun from Stewart.

At Stewart’s suppression hearing, the officers gave their account, while the cab driver testified that he stopped before entering the crosswalk, which the district court credited. The court found that the officers had been subject to an optical illusion or distraction; it took judicial notice “of the fact that a stationary object may shift in one’s visual perception as one moves past it [and thus] that an object abutting a straight line may appear to be over that line as an observer moves past and away from that line.” The district court …


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Categories: probable cause, reasonable suspicion, traffic stop, Uncategorized

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Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Good Faith Efforts

United States v. Falso, No. 06-2721-cr (2d Cir. September 24, 2008) (Jacobs, Sotomayor, Livingston, CJJ)

This opinion, a three-way split, adds another confusing piece to the circuit’s oeuvre in reviewing search warrants in child pornography cases. Judges Sotomayor and Jacobs held that the warrant lacked probable cause; Judge Livingston held that it did not. Judges Sotomayor and Livingston held that the agents relied on the warrant in good faith; Judge Jacobs held that the good faith exception should not apply. In the end, Falso’s conviction and thirty-year sentence were affirmed.

Background

All of the evidence against Falso was recovered from a search of his home and a consensual interview that took place there. This led to a 242-count indictment that covered travel with the intent to engage in sexual contact with minors, production of child pornography, receiving child pornography via the internet, and transporting and possessing child pornography – 242 …


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Categories: good faith, probable cause, Uncategorized

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Monday, August 18th, 2008

Valentine’s Day Off

United States v. Valentine, No. 06-5648-cr (2d Cir. August 5, 2008) (Leval, Calabresi, CJJ, Nevas, DJ)

Federal agents intercepted a fifty kilogram drug shipment that was addressed to an apartment building in Brooklyn. They arranged for a controlled delivery, and watched from a surveillance van across the street. Valentine went to the fake FedEx truck and called over a friend. He also agreed to help offload the delivery if he got paid. He then found someone else inside the building, who tried to locate the recipient of the delivery, but ultimately no one signed for it, and the fake FedEx truck left.

Surveillance officers stayed behind, however. They saw Valentine go in and out of the building, speak to people, and go with them to a nearby vacant lot. A few minutes later, he reappeared holding a beverage and went back to the building. He also took of his sweatshirt …


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Categories: probable cause, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Car Trouble

United States v. Delossantos, No. 06-4713-cr (2d Cir. July 25, 2008) (Feinberg, Miner, Parker, CJJ)

Marino Delossantos was a drug dealer, who was negotiating a deal with an undercover officer. While Delossantos was under surveillance, defendant Rodriguez was seen at the building where Delossantos lived ,and also drove him to and from various locations related to the drug deal. Rodriguez was arrested at the end of one such trip; he made statements and gave consent to search his apartment and car, where officers found drugs and other evidence. He moved to suppress the statements and evidence as the fruit of an illegal arrest, and the district court granted the motion, holding that no probable cause for the warrantless arrest of Rodriguez.

On the government’s appeal, the circuit reversed, holding that the agents had probable cause to arrest Rodriguez without a warrant, based on the available facts. A car passenger is …


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Categories: probable cause, Uncategorized

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