7th Circuit: Plain-view doctrine controls appeal of motion to suppress

June 13, 2017

An Indiana district court did not err in denying a convicted felon’s motion to suppress after three guns were found in his home during a search for electronic devices because the guns were found under the plain-view doctrine, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

In United States of America v. Anthony J. Minney, 16-4057, officers executed a search warrant at Anthony Minney’s apartment to seize various electronic devices, and during the search, ammunition was discovered in Minney’s bedside table. When Minney admitted he was on parole for dealing cocaine, he was arrested for being a felon in possession of ammunition. 

Then, when the search for the electronic devices continued, Detective William Vasquez found multiple guns in Minney’s bedroom, which led to his charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. Judge Larry J. McKinney of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied Minney’s motion to suppress, so Minney pleaded guilty to one charge in exchange for the dismissal of the other two charges.

On appeal, Minney argued the guns should be suppressed because the officers exceeded the scope of the search warrant, but 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Michael Kanne wrote for the panel that disagreed. Instead, Kanne wrote the plain-view doctrine controlled Minney’s case.

“Detective Vazquez was lawfully searching Minney’s bedroom under the search warrant, and the electronic devices could have reasonably been found in any of the places where Detective Vazquez found Minney’s guns,” Kanne wrote. “(T)he guns were in plain view when Detective Vazquez searched in those places; and the guns were immediately incriminating because Minney admitted that he was out on parole for dealing cocaine, a felony.”

Thus, the 7th Circuit affirmed the denial of Minney’s motion to suppress.




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