United States v. Bailey, No. 07-3719-cr (2d Cir. Feb. 21, 2014) (Cabranes, Pooler, and Raggi), available here
This case shows that even a Supreme Court victory isn’t always enough to help a convicted defendant.
The police stopped Bailey about a mile from a residence that he had just departed and that was about to be searched (for drugs and a gun) pursuant to a warrant. In 2011, the Circuit upheld this stop as a lawful detention incident to the authorized search under Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981). The Supreme Court then reversed, holding that Summers‘s detention-incident-to-search rule did not apply because Bailey was not in “the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched” when he was stopped. But, rather than ordering suppression or a new trial, the Supreme Court remanded for the Second Circuit to decide whether Bailey’s detention could be justified independently as a reasonable investigatory stop under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).
This opinion (authored by Judge Raggi) addresses that question and holds that Bailey’s initial detention was reasonable under Terry, but ceased to be so when he was placed in handcuffs. Thus, while evidence obtained from Bailey before handcuffing was lawfully obtained under Terry, evidence obtained thereafter (including exculpatory statements that the prosecution claimed at trial were false) was not.
If you thought that this ruling would lead to a new trial, you’d be wrong. The defendant was not entitled to relief because, the Circuit held, the admission of the tainted evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court cited the strength of the government’s case, the prosecutor’s limited reliance on the tainted evidence in summation, and other factors to support the conclusion of harmless error.
Judge Pooler agreed with the majority that the evidence obtained after handcuffing should have been suppressed, but dissented from the remainder of the Court’s decision; she concluded that the defendant’s entire detention was illegal and that a new trial was required.