Courts Continue Assault on the Rights Against Unlawful Search & Seizure

The 10th Circuit Court issued another remarkable ruling that continues the assault on the rights of individuals to be free of unlawful search and seizure. In U.S. v. Roach (10th Cir. 2009), the court ruled that although a warrant lacked probable cause, the evidence seized during the unlawful search is admissible so long as the officers acted in good faith.

An affidavit was issued in support of the warrant from the federal magistrate. The affidavit failed to establish probable cause that the defendant was a member of the gang under investigation. The affidavit also failed to establish that the defendant even lived at the residence that was to be searched. In fact, the residence was the defendant‘s girlfriend‘s residence.

The unlawful search unsupported by probable cause for the warrant resulted in the seizure of a variety of drugs and firearms. The defendant moved to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. The motion to suppress was denied.

In U.S. v. Roach, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the suppression motion. In doing so, the court acknowledged a warrant should issue only on probable cause. The Court further stated that there must be probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the defendant committed the crime and that the place to be searched has some connection to the crime. The court stated that probable cause could not be built upon hunches.

Then despite the very clear state of the law the Court ruled that suppression of the evidence must be refused if the officers executing the warrant relied in good faith on the authorization of the magistrate.

This is pretty remarkable circuitous reasoning clearly directed toward further restrictions on the rights against unlawful search and seizure. After all, did the officers themselves not provide the magistrate with the affidavit upon which the warrant was issued? So the officers are relying upon the magistrate who issued the warrant who relied upon the affidavit provided by the officers. In short, the officers have relied upon their own faulty affidavit which failed to establish probable cause. How can this ever be construed as good faith?


Related Reading:
Unlawful Search & Seizure Under the 4th Amendment
Protective Sweep Searches in New Mexico Fairly Limited Under 4th Amendment
4th Amendment and the Plain View Doctrine

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