District Court didn't err in Franks hearing

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's drug conviction following a Franks hearing, affirming the U.S. District Court's decision to reconsider one of its findings and to not compel the government to identify the confidential informant in the case.

The case of United States of America v. Antone C. Harris, No. 07-1315, made its way back to the 7th Circuit after the federal appellate court originally remanded the case to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, to hold a Franks hearing because it found the court had improperly denied Antone Harris a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978).

A magistrate judge had issued a warrant to search Harris' home for cocaine and drug contraband pursuant to an affidavit from Indianapolis Police Department Detective Michael Forrest.

Forrest's original affidavit contained some incorrect information. Despite three false and misleading statements, the District Court denied Harris' motion to suppress evidence. On appeal, the 7th Circuit remanded the case with instructions to hold a Franks hearing to determine whether the search warrant was unconstitutional.

In a Franks hearing, in order for a defendant to show a search warrant was unconstitutional, he must show by a preponderance of the evidence 1) the search warrant contained false material statements; 2) the affiant omitted the material fact, or made the false statement intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth; and 3) the false statement is material for finding the probable cause.

Based on Forrest's testimony at the hearing, the District Court ruled Harris didn't meet his burden of demonstrating the evidence in the warrant affidavit was insufficient to show probable cause. The District Court also denied his request to compel disclosure of the confidential informant who was used in the affidavit.

Harris argued that the District Court should have been bound by its initial determination that the warrant affidavit contained misleading information as to the date of the confidential informant's conversations about purchasing cocaine with Harris in the Goodlet Avenue residence.

To constrain the District Court would have forced it to ignore evidence from the hearing, a result that "is neither necessary nor justified," wrote Judge Ann Claire Williams. As a result, the District Court didn't abuse its discretion when it determined it wasn't bound by the law of the case doctrine from reconsidering whether the statements in the warrant affidavit were materially false.

Harris moved the District Court to compel the government to disclose the identity of and produce the confidential informant, believing there was no informant and the detective made up the informant's existence. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that when confidential informants are just "tipsters," disclosure of their identity isn't required.

"Because the CI (confidential informant)'s only role was to provide information that served as the basis for obtaining the search warrant, there is no reason to believe that the CI would testify at trial in such a way that would refute or cast doubt on whether Harris was in possession of crack cocaine on April 20, 2004. The CI is therefore a 'tipster' whose identity need not be disclosed," the judge wrote.

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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.