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- PEOPLE v. RUIZ
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This is a People's appeal Pen. The trial court granted the motion to suppress because the search warrant was issued by a Placer County magistrate for a Sacramento County address, but the affidavit in support of the warrant failed to state specifically that the search related to a crime committed in Placer County. People v. Fleming, supra, 29 Cal. On appeal, the People contend that the motion to suppress evidence should have been denied pursuant to the good faith exception of Leon. We agree and shall reverse the order of dismissal. During that month O'Connor and other officers used a confidential informant to make controlled drug purchases in Placer County.
On March 21, , the informant successfully purchased drugs from an unknown third party in Roseville, Placer County.
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About 50 minutes after the first meeting, the informant again met with the third party in Roseville. The third party told him that he had gone to the home of a person named Rick to obtain the cocaine, but that Rick was holding a kilogram that he could not break up due to a previous arrangement. He asserted, however, that he could provide an eight ball the following day because more cocaine was coming to Rick's house.
After the second meeting between the informant and the third party, Officer O'Connor went to the Placer County District Attorney's office to prepare an affidavit for a search warrant. The affidavit in support of the search warrant essentially sets forth the above information together with other information about defendant Ruiz and his residence on Summerplace Drive, Citrus Heights.
The affidavit did not, however, specifically state that the transactions involving the confidential informant had taken place in Placer County. Judge Gilbert considered the affidavit, questioned O'Connor, and had him add certain information to the affidavit by interlineation. He then approved the affidavit and issued a search warrant for defendants' Sacramento County home.
The subsequent search of the residence disclosed evidence which led to various drug possession charges being filed against defendants in Sacramento County. Defendants moved to suppress the evidence against them asserting, among other things, that the search warrant was invalid because it was issued by a Placer County magistrate for a Sacramento County residence. In opposition to the motion the People submitted a declaration from Judge Gilbert.
He stated that he was aware of the requirements for the issuance of out-of-county search warrants. Although the affidavit for the search warrant did not specifically state that the events leading up to the request for a warrant occurred in Placer County, Judge Gilbert either assumed or inferred that they had occurred there, based upon his knowledge of Officer O'Connor's employment in that County and past practices. At the hearing of the motion to suppress evidence Officer O'Connor testified that when he took the affidavit for a search warrant to the jurist's residence Judge Gilbert asked him about the location of the transactions involving the confidential informant.
According to O'Connor, he disclosed to the judge the location in Roseville where the transactions occurred. In response defendants submitted another declaration from Judge Gilbert. In this declaration the judge stated that he had no specific recollection whether he discussed the location of the transactions with Officer O'Connor. But he did state that it was his custom and practice not to accept oral briefing in connection with the issuance of a search warrant. In the event he elicits information from an officer it is his custom and practice to have the officer add the information to the affidavit by interlineation.
He believed that if he had been orally told the events occurred in Placer County he would have had O'Connor add this information to the affidavit. The People submitted a declaration from Officer Jones, who accompanied O'Connor to request the warrant. This officer stated that he recalled O'Connor orally advising Judge Gilbert that the transactions occurred in Placer County.
In ruling on the motion to suppress the trial court stated that it found Judge Gilbert to be the more credible witness with respect to the issuance of the warrant. With that finding the court found that the affidavit was facially deficient within the meaning of People v. The court ordered the evidence suppressed.
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It later dismissed the charges pursuant to Penal Code section when the People were unable to continue without the suppressed evidence. The resolution of a motion to suppress evidence requires a two-step process.
Placer County CA Warrants & Arrests
Leyba 29 Cal. First, the court must determine what the facts are with respect to the challenged search. Second, the facts so found must then be measured against constitutional requirements. On appeal from an order granting or denying a motion to suppress, the appellate court must uphold the trial court's factual findings if they are supported by substantial evidence. The determination whether the search and seizure was legal, based upon the facts found by the trial court, is the ultimate responsibility of the appellate court which must exercise its independent judgment on the legal question.
There was only one evidentiary conflict in this case. That was whether Officer O'Connor orally advised Judge Gilbert that the drug transactions identified in the affidavit occurred in Placer County. The trial court, based upon Judge Gilbert's declaration, found that he did not. Since that finding was based upon substantial evidence, we must accept the trial court's resolution of the factual conflict.
With that determination made, the factual circumstances presented are relatively straightforward. It appears that Placer County police officers were investigating drug transactions which occurred in Placer County. The investigation led them across the county line to defendants' residence in Sacramento County. They applied to a Placer County magistrate for a search warrant for defendants' Sacramento County residence. In doing so they failed to advise the magistrate that they were investigating drug transactions which had occurred in Placer County.
The question is whether, under these circumstances, the evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant must be suppressed. On appeal the People rely solely upon the so-called good faith rule set out in United States v. Leon, supra, U. The Court concluded that the exclusionary rule should be so modified. The Fourth Amendment does not require suppression of evidence obtained in objectively reasonable reliance on a search warrant issued by a neutral magistrate.
The fact that a magistrate has issued a warrant normally suffices to establish that a law enforcement officer has acted in good faith in conducting a search. Instructive examples of the application of the good faith rule may be set forth. In Massachusetts v. Sheppard U. The investigating officer prepared an affidavit in support of a search warrant for the defendant's residence for evidence relating to the murder. Since it was Sunday, the officer had difficulty finding a warrant application form and he ultimately utilized a standard form for a search warrant for controlled substances.
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The officer took the affidavit and warrant form to a judge who, after examining the affidavit, said he would authorize the search. The officer pointed out that he had attempted to adapt a controlled substance warrant form and the judge said that he would make the necessary changes. Although the judge made some changes and signed the warrant, he did not change the substantive portion of the warrant, nor he did not alter the warrant form to incorporate the affidavit.
Thus, the warrant continued to authorize an impermissible search for controlled substances.
The officers then conducted a search limited in scope to the items in the affidavit relating to the murder. Under these circumstances the United States Supreme Court concluded that although the warrant was constitutionally invalid for failing to particularly describe the items to be seized, the officers acted in good faith reliance on the warrant and suppression was not required.
California authorities reflect the same application of the good faith exception. In People v. MacAvoy Cal. The warrant they obtained, however, would have permitted a search of the entire fraternity.
The Court of Appeal found that the warrant was void on its face and that the defect could not be cured by reference to the underlying affidavit. Nevertheless, suppression of the evidence was not required because the officers acted in good faith reliance on the warrant. Similarly, in People v. Alvarez Cal. The good faith rule was also applied in People v. Fortune Cal. The decision in People v. Dantzler, supra, Cal. In that case an officer applied to a San Francisco County magistrate for a warrant to search a San Mateo County residence from which drug sales were being made.
The affidavit did not refer to any crime committed in San Francisco, nor did it indicate that prosecution for the offenses would be in San Francisco. The court found the warrant to be legally defective, but nevertheless refused to suppress the evidence because the officer acted in good faith reliance on the warrant in conducting the search.
PEOPLE v. RUIZ
The only difference between Dantzler and this case is that here O'Connor was investigating drug transactions which had in fact occurred in Placer County, while in Dantzler the opinion does not indicate that transactions had in fact occurred in San Francisco. To the extent that difference is significant this is the stronger case for the application of the good faith rule.
Defendants assert that Dantzler is not controlling, and that in any event we should reject its holding. They point out that in Dantzler it was stipulated that the officer did not include jurisdictional information in his affidavit because in good faith he did not believe he had a duty to do so. Defendants assert that this stipulation resolved the good faith issue and reduces the remainder of the Dantzler opinion to dictum.
This is not so. There is a significant difference between a factual stipulation that an officer acted in subjective good faith in applying for a warrant and the legal conclusion that reliance on a search warrant was objectively reasonable. In the circumstances of Dantzler, the stipulation was clearly related to the officer's subjective good faith and not to the legal conclusion that reliance on the warrant was objectively reasonable. Thus, although in Dantzler the parties stipulated to the officer's subjective good faith, that is a distinction without a difference.
In this case it was uncontroverted that the drug transactions Officer O'Connor was investigating had in fact occurred in Placer County.
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Under these circumstances there could be no conceivable bad faith motive for omitting this information from the affidavit. The only possible effect of the omission was to cast doubt upon what was otherwise a well-supported application for a search warrant. Krause v. Apodaca Cal. To conclude from this record that Officer O'Connor had some bad faith motive or misled the magistrate through reckless disregard of the truth would amount to wholly unwarranted speculation.
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