Suppressing that pesky search

There was a substantial basis for finding probable cause, and this didn’t even approach “bare bones.” “We must take care not to confuse a bare bones affidavit with one that merely lacks probable cause.” The motion to suppress was properly denied. United States v. Gilbert, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 7590 (6th Cir. Mar. 11, 2020):

We must take care not to confuse a bare bones affidavit with one that merely lacks probable cause. “Too often courts raise the Leon bar, making it practically indistinguishable from the probable cause standard itself.” Christian, 925 F.3d at 318 (Thapar, J., concurring). There must be daylight between the “bare bones” and “substantial basis” standards if Leon’s good-faith exception is to strike the desired balance between safeguarding Fourth Amendment rights and facilitating the criminal justice system’s truth-seeking function. See Leon, 468 U.S. at 906-07, 913-21; United States v. Carpenter, 360 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2004) (en banc). Thus, “[a]n affidavit cannot be labeled ‘bare bones’ simply because it lacks the requisite facts and inferences to sustain the magistrate’s probable-cause finding; rather, it must be so lacking in indicia of probable cause that, despite a judicial officer having issued a warrant, no reasonable officer would rely on it.” White, 874 F.3d at 497. Otherwise, “when the police act with an objectively ‘reasonable good-faith belief’ that their conduct is lawful,” excluding evidence recovered as a result of a technically deficient affidavit serves no useful purpose under the exclusionary rule. Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 238, 131 S. Ct. 2419, 180 L. Ed. 2d 285 (2011) (quoting Leon, 468 U.S. at 909, 919). Before faulting an officer for executing a court-issued order, we must therefore find that the defects in the supporting affidavit were apparent in the eyes of a reasonable official. Leon, 468 U.S. at 921 (“[O]nce the warrant issues, there is literally nothing more the policeman can do in seeking to comply with the law.” (quoting Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 498, 96 S. Ct. 3037, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1067 (1976) (Burger, C.J., concurring))).


The government didn’t even show a connection between the defendant and the alleged crime to get access to his subscriber information. “While courts may find the good-faith exception to apply when an application is ‘thin,’ a showing of some connection between the information sought and criminal investigation is required. See e.g. United States v. Wright, 339 F. Supp. 3d 1057, 1062 (D. Nev. 2018) (thin factual summary showed the connection between defendant and the phone number known as co-defendant’s before, during, and after a robbery). Here, the application fails to meet even that low bar. The Court agrees with the magistrate judge that ‘[t]he good-faith exception does not apply because the supporting affidavit was so lacking that is was unreasonable for the agents to rely on the order stemming from it.’ R&R (Doc. 115, p. 5).” Motion to suppress granted. United States v. Moreno-Vasquez, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42047 (D. Ariz. Mar. 10, 2020).

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