Monday, March 30th, 2015

Good Faith Reliance on Search Warrant Required Reversal of Suppression Order

United States v. Raymonda, No. 13-4899-cr (2d Cir. Mar. 2, 2013) (Walker, Lynch, and Chin), available here

Someone using defendant’s IP address accessed thumbnail images of child pornography on the Internet. More than nine months later, government agents obtained a search warrant for defendant’s  home and discovered over 1,000 files of child pornography. The district court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that the government’s evidence that defendant had accessed child pornography on a single occasion nine months earlier was too stale to establish probable cause that he would still possess illicit images at the time of the search.

The Circuit reversed, over a dissent by Judge Chin. The majority agreed with the district court that a single incident of access to thumbnail images of child pornography, absent any other circumstances suggesting that the suspect accessed those images deliberately or has a continuing interest in child pornography, fails to establish probable cause that the suspect will possess illicit images many months later.

But the majority held that suppression was not required, because the agents relied in good faith on a magistrate judge’s independent determination of probable cause. The Court rejected the district court’s finding that the search warrant affidavit was so “grossly negligent” as to preclude reliance on the good faith exception. Judge Lynch’s majority opinion concluded that any errors in the affidavit were “neither intentionally false nor grossly negligent.” Accordingly, the agents were entitled to rely in good faith on the warrant.

Judge Chin would have upheld the district court’s finding that the lead agent had engaged in grossly negligent conduct. The evidence showed that the agent submitted a false and misleading affidavit to obtain the warrant, in conscious disregard of the truth and the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Accordingly, Judge Chin concluded that suppression was appropriate.

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized
Comments are closed.