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United States v. Monk

June 29, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garaufis, District Judge.


Damon Monk and his three co-defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and MDMA, one count of distributing cocaine and MDMA, and one count of using drug-related premises. Monk moves the court to controvert a search warrant issued by the New York Supreme Court, Kings County and to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to the warrant.*fn1*fn2 (Not. Mot. ¶¶ 1-2.) For the reasons set forth below, Monk's motion is DENIED.

I. Background

On August 21, 2006, a confidential informant ("Informant") told officers of the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") that illegal narcotics were being sold out of Apartment 4A in the building located at 1550 East New York Avenue, Brooklyn, New York ("Apartment"). (Govt. Br. at 3.) More specifically, the Informant told NYPD officers that he had purchased marijuana in the Apartment and had seen crack cocaine there. (Redmond Aff. (Govt. Ex. B) ¶ 4.)

On August 22, 2006, NYPD Police Office Joseph Redmond filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, King County in support of his application for a warrant to search the Apartment. His application was considered by Justice Jill Konvisor, who took sworn testimony from both Officer Redmond and the Informant. (Tr. (Govt. Ex. A).) Based on that testimony and Officer Redmond's affidavit, Justice Konvisor granted the application and issued a search warrant. (Govt. Ex. C.)

On August 23, 2006, NYPD officers executed the search warrant. (Govt. Br. at 4.) Their search of the Apartment, where they found all four Defendants, revealed more than 100 grams of crack cocaine, more than 70 ecstasy pills, a small quantity of heroin, large amounts of United States currency, a loaded nine-millimeter magazine, and additional ammunition. (Id. at 4-5 & n.4.)

II. Analysis

Monk argues that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause because "[t]here is no indication that this informant, who is unnamed, was previously reliable or had given information in the past." (Wallenstein Aff. ¶ 4.) The Government argues that the good-faith exception applies, such that the court need not even consider whether the warrant should have issued, and that in any event the warrant was supported by probable cause.

A. The Good-Faith Exception

The Government argues that the court need not consider whether the warrant was properly issued because the searching officers acted in reasonable reliance on a judicially issued search warrant. (Govt. Br. at 12-14.) This court agrees. When an officer conducts a search in good-faith reliance on such a warrant, the exclusionary rule does not require the suppression of evidence -- even if the warrant is later shown to be defective. U.S. v. Cancelmo, 64 F.3d 804, 807-08 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984)). There is good reason for the good-faith exception:

The deterrent purpose of the exclusionary rule necessarily assumes that the police have engaged in willful, or at the very least negligent, conduct which has deprived the defendant of some right. By refusing to admit evidence gained as a result of such conduct, the courts hope to instill in those particular investigating officers, or in their future counterparts, a greater degree of care toward the rights of an accused. Where the official action was pursued in complete good faith, however, the deterrence rationale loses much of its force.

Leon at 919 (quoting United States v. Peltier, 422 U.S. 531, 539 (1984) and Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 447 (1974)).

Monk agrees that the executing officers acted pursuant to a search warrant, but he argues that the good-faith exception does not apply because the search warrant was based in part on the affidavit and testimony of Officer Redmond, who then helped execute the search warrant. In effect, Monk argues that a police officer cannot rely in good faith on a warrant issued in reliance on his own testimony. This court disagrees.

When an officer conducts a search pursuant to a judicially issued warrant, the good-faith exception applies unless (1) the judge who issued the warrant was misled by information in an affidavit and the affiant knew or recklessly disregarded that the information was false or (2) the warrant was so facially deficient (in the sense that it failed to identify the place to be searched or ...

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