CA6 (Bivens Action): Baranski v. Unknown ATF Agents (WD Ky, Louisville; 7/3/2006)

Baranski v. Unknown ATF Agents
Western District of Kentucky at Louisville
06a0225p.06 7/3/2006

SUTTON, Circuit Judge. The Fourth Amendment provides in part that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In this case, several agents of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) obtained a search warrant that satisfied the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment at the time the magistrate issued  the warrant. But by the time the agents conducted the search, a supporting affidavit that was crossreferenced in the warrant and that particularly described the things to be seized had been placed under seal and thus was not present during the search.

In this money-damages action filed against the agents under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), Keith Baranski and Pars International Corporation contend that the agents’ search of a warehouse owned by Pars and seizure of weapons owned by Baranski violated their Fourth Amendment rights. Because the warrant described the items to be seized when the magistrate “issue[d]” it, the warrant satisfied the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment. And because the agents conducted the search in a reasonable manner, they did not otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment. We therefore affirm the judgment of the district court in favor of the agents.

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