U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT
No. 16-3324. United States v. Knox. 2/27/2018. D.Kan. Judge Ebel. Probable Cause—Good-Faith Exception—Motion to Suppress—Facts Known to Officer but not Disclosed to Magistrate Issuing Warrant.
Detective Finley sought to apprehend defendant after he removed his GPS monitor, fed from the apartment where he had been staying, and failed to appear in court on an unrelated state charge. Finley obtained an order to track a phone number he believed to be defendant’s, which led to defendant’s location at an apartment complex. Finley also obtained information from a former girlfriend that the defendant “always” carried a firearm and that he had been threatening people. Finley obtained a search warrant for the apartment complex to search for defendant and to seize him and “firearms.” On executing the warrant, officers found defendant hiding under a bed and took him into custody. They then searched the residence and seized a rife from a suitcase located next to the bed where defendant had been hiding.
Defendant was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He moved to suppress the firearm. Te district court held that though there was insufficient evidence of probable cause to justify the warrant, officers were entitled to rely in good faith on the magistrate’s probable cause determination and the firearm was not subject to suppression. In so ruling, the court considered not only information in the affidavit but also information gleaned from Finley at the suppression hearing that was not included in the affidavit. Defendant pleaded guilty to the charge but reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress the firearm.
On appeal, defendant challenged the district court’s determination that the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement applied to the firearm. Te Tenth Circuit held that a suppression court’s assessment of an officer’s good faith is confined to reviewing the four corners of the sworn affidavit and any other pertinent information shared with the issuing judge under oath before the warrant is issued, and information relating to the warrant application process. Here, the district court erred in considering information not disclosed under oath to the issuing magistrate. But the affidavit had enough indicia of reliability to support Finley’s good-faith reliance on the warrant. The search warrant affidavit was based on the ex-girlfriend’s statements. In light of the reliability of the former girlfriend’s statements, the timeliness of the information in the affidavit, and the nexus between the item to be seized and the place to be searched, the affidavit was not so facially deficient that reliance on the...