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7th Circuit affirms search warrant basis

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that enough probable cause existed to justify a search warrant that led to a man’s jury convictions on drug charges.

In U.S.A v. Marlon K. Spears, No. 10-3338, the federal appellate court affirmed a decision from Chief Judge Philip Simon in the Northern District of Indiana.

The case involves Marlon Spears, who was the subject of a police search in August 2008 where drugs and a firearm were found in his home. A magistrate judge issued a search warrant for Spears’ home. After that search, the man was arrested and charged with possessing 100 or more marijuana plants with intent to distribute, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and maintaining a place for the manufacture and distribution of marijuana. Spears filed motions to suppress the evidence from the search, challenging statements in the probable cause affidavit that had accompanied the warrant application. The District court held a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), and after determining that the warrant didn’t contain any false statements the court denied the motion.

A jury convicted Spears on all three counts, and he challenged the lower court’s finding that no Franks violation had occurred.
On appeal, the 7th Circuit determined that enough evidence existed in the probable cause affidavit for the warrant to be executed. The appellate panel declined to analyze the issue about how one of the officers relied on information from an informant but didn’t include that in the affidavit. Spears argued that no magistrate judge could infer from the affidavit that the information came from a fellow officer or that the source of the information was reliable.

“Alas, this is not a question we must resolve, because even if we agreed with Spears’s position that the omission was material, misleading, and done so with intent or reckless disregard, and that the District court committed clear error, we would find that the arrant contained sufficient probable cause,” Judge Ann Williams wrote.

 

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