GOOD FAITH EXCEPTION TO SEARCH WARRANT: CRUM V. COMMONWEALTH (SC 5/24/2007)

CRUM V. COMMONWEALTH
CRIMINAL:  Search warrant; Good faith exception
2005-SC-000395-DG.pdf
PUBLISHED: REVERSING AND REMANDING (NOBLE)
DATE RENDERED: 5/24/2007; MODIFIED 5/25/2007
TRIAL COURT:  PIKE CIR. CT.

On discretionary review, SC reversed Defendant’s drug convictions based upon a deficient search warrant. Here, the Defendant claimed that the affidavit did not state with specificity what the alleged contraband was, listed the wrong name of the property owner on the second page, and contained no information to establish the reliability of the informant, who was not identified. TC denied the motion to suppress based upon the good faith exception to the warrant requirement. The affidavit listed the thing to be seized only as "illegal contraband," the informant was not named, and the officer’s reason for believing the informant to be reliable was not stated. The affidavit states that the officer’s independent investigation consists of "information" that was received from a deputy sheriff without stating the nature of that information. Further, the warrant is facially deficient because it does not adequately describe the thing to be seized.

On the whole, it is impossible to tell the basis of the officer’s knowledge or exactly what he is looking for. The affidavit is thus so lacking in indicia of probable cause that any warrant issued on it must likewise be lacking. Failing to state what the object of the search is amounts to requesting permission to go on a fishing expedition. While the requesting officer may indeed be acting in good faith, no one’s home should be searched without a specific object of the search being stated . For this reason, failing to name the thing to be seized is not covered by the "good faith" justification for a search on a warrant issued by a judicial officer that lacks probable cause .

By Scott Byrd

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