United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
V. S. GRANADE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion on Defendant's
motion to suppress evidence and request for evidentiary
hearing (Doc. 27), and the Government's opposition
thereto (Doc. 28). For the reasons explained below, the Court
finds that Defendant's motion should be denied.
seeks to suppress as evidence any and all items seized,
statements made about any of the foregoing, and to prohibit
any testimony regarding any statements made by the Defendant
or any other witness subsequent to a search of
Defendant's home conducted pursuant to a warrant on
February 10, 2017. Defendant contends that the affidavit that
supported the search warrant was insufficient to establish
probable cause. The affidavit offered in support of the
search warrant included the following:
On February 6, 2017 CI number 1701 came the Sheriff office
located inside the courthouse at 117 S. Mulberry ave. 1701
stated that he had been residing at 3207 Riderwood Dr. for
about a week and had received morphine 60 mg. 1701 stated
that he has been working for Claude Diamond and operation of
illegal sale and distribution of illegal narcotics. 1701
stated that the gun cabinet is located to the left after
walking through the front door is where Claude Diamond
distributed 6 pills to the hand of 1701 at which time 1701
stated that he saw various types of narcotics in various
containers on the top shelf of the gun cabinet. 1701 was
informed by Claude Diamond that there is a large shipment of
various narcotics being delivered to 3207 Riderwood dr. On
Friday February 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm. The narcotics are to be
transported by Michael Land driving an older model blue in
color Chevrolet S10. CI number 1701was requested to be
present at the time of delivery by Claude Diamond to help in
the selling of said narcotics. CI number 1701 has given
reliable information in regards to narcotic sales in the
county to myself and to other law enforcement personnel for
extended periods of time in the past.
(Doc. 27-1). Defendant contends the affidavit was not
sufficient because the informant was unreliable and the
information from the informant was not corroborated.
Government points out, to be entitled to a suppression
hearing, a defendant must “allege facts that, if
proved, would require the grant of relief.” United
States v. Richardson, 764 F.2d 1514, 1527 (11th Cir.
1985). In the instant case, the issue before the Court is
whether the affidavit was sufficient to establish probable
cause. “The question of what amounts to probable cause
is purely a question of law.” United States v.
Allison, 953 F.2d 1346, 1350 (11th Cir. 1992) (citation
omitted). Because Defendant's motion is based on
questions of law, not fact, no hearing is required.
Court begins with the recitation of well-established law on
“[P]robable cause is a fluid concept--turning on the
assessment of probabilities in particular factual
contexts[.]” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213,
232, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). To avoid
“rigid” legal rules, Gates changed the
“two- pronged test” of Aguilar v. Texas,
378 U.S. 108, 114, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), into
a totality of the circumstances test. See Gates, 462
U.S. at 230-35, 103 S.Ct. 2317. Under the Gates
totality of the circumstances test, the
“veracity” and “basis of knowledge”
prongs of Aguilar, for assessing the usefulness of
an informant's tips, are not independent. “[T]hey
are better understood as relevant considerations in the
totality of the circumstances analysis that traditionally has
guided probable cause determinations: a deficiency in one may
be compensated for ... by a strong showing as to the
other[.]” Id. at 233, 103 S.Ct. 2317.
United States v. Brundidge, 170 F.3d 1350, 1352-53
(11th Cir. 1999). The “duty of a reviewing court is
simply to ensure that the magistrate had a ‘substantial
basis for . . . concluding that probable cause
existed.” Gates, 462 U.S. at 238-39 (quoting
Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 271 (1960)).
Of course, “[a]n affidavit must provide the magistrate
with a substantial basis for determining the existence of
probable cause, ” and “wholly conclusory”
statements do not meet the probable cause requirement.
Gates, 462 U.S. at 239. “Information [in the
warrant application] must be timely for probable cause to
exist, for probable cause must exist at the time the
magistrate judge issues the search warrant.” United
States v. Magluta, 198 F.3d 1265, 1271-72 (11th Cir.
1999), vacated in part on other grounds, 203 F.3d 1304
(2000), quoting United States v. Green, 40 F.3d
1167, 1172 (11th Cir. 1994) and United States v.
Harris, 20 F.3d 445, 450 (11th Cir. 1994).
asserts that the affidavit fails to establish that the
confidential informant was reliable or that any of the
information from the informant was corroborated. Analyzing
the affidavit under the totality of the circumstances, the
Court finds that the information contained in the warrant is
sufficient to establish probable cause. The affidavit states
that the informant has given reliable information regarding
narcotic sales in the county to the officer as well as other
law enforcement personnel for extended periods of time in the
past. Thus, it states that the informant had an extended
history of reliability.
even a potentially unreliable informant's “explicit
and detailed description of alleged wrongdoing, along with a
statement that the event was first observed firsthand,
entitles his tip to greater weight than otherwise be the
case. Gates, 462 U.S. at 234. The Eleventh Circuit
has held that “requiring independent police
corroboration-as a per se rule in each and every case-is
contrary” to established precedent. Brundidge,
170 F.3d at 1353 (footnote omitted). Corroboration may be
accomplished by creating circumstances under which the
informant is unlikely to lie. United States v.
Foree, 43 F.3d 1572, 1576 (11th Cir. 1995). The fact
that the informant here provided detailed descriptions
corroborates the informant's veracity, because “if
the warrant issued, lies would likely be discovered in short
order and favors falsely curried would dissipate
rapidly.” Id. (citing Foree, 43 F.3d
instant case, the informant had proven reliable for an
extended period of time and he reported that he purchased
narcotics from within the premises to be searched just three
days before Investigator Johnson obtained the warrant. The
informant had been residing at the residence in question for
about a week and provided detailed information regarding the
inside of the residence and location of narcotics as well as
specifics of the narcotics shipment. The informant reportedly
had firsthand knowledge of the premises and the presence of
narcotics. Under the totality of the circumstances, the Court
concludes that the affidavit establishes the informant's
reliability, and that “the magistrate had a substantial
basis for . . . concluding that probable cause
existed.” Gates, supra.
reasons stated above, defendant's motion to ...