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7th Circuit: Recording of drug deal doesn’t taint conviction

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A taped conversation between a suspected heroin dealer and a confidential informant in which a sentence was admitted into evidence was not fruit of the poison tree dooming a conviction that was supported by plenty of other evidence, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Allen County detectives arranged a criminal informant to make multiple purchases of heroin from Gerald Reynolds. At some point, Reynolds drove the CI’s car to the home of his supplier, John Scott. Unbeknownst to either man, the car had recording equipment that captured a driveway conversation involving drug purchases.

Scott ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute under the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21, U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, denied his motion to suppress a search warrant of Scott’s home that followed the captured conversation, but Scott’s plea preserved the right to appeal that issue.

The 7th Circuit rejected Scott’s claims in United States of America v. John Scott 12-2962, that the recorded conversation was the primary reason authorities sought a warrant.

“The detective’s affidavit contained many facts other than the recording of Scott’s driveway conversation, and these other facts were sufficient to create probable cause to support a search warrant of Scott’s house,” wrote U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee of the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation.   

 “Thus, we need not reach the issue of whether Scott had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his driveway conversation with Reynolds and affirm the district court’s denial of Scott’s motion to suppress,” Lee wrote for the panel.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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