You’d think that this would be an easy one. However, 50% of the judges that looked at this case disagreed. Luckily one of those was the trial judge, so the 3-judge panel of the Appellate Court overturned the conviction.
In State v. Browne [pdf], the defendant argued that his conviction should be overturned because the search warrant was not valid. In the specificity portion of the warrant, the items sought were listed as “cocaine, crack cocaine”, but the cops seized marijuana and Browne was convicted of possession of marijuana.
The cop that prepared the warrant testified that the reason he entered cocaine instead of marijuana (which was the focus of the investigation all along) was that he cut and pasted from another warrant and left it in. Apparently, only the mouse was working on his computer.
The Court doesn’t buy this and says particularity means particularity:
This argument was addressed in the recent United States Supreme Court case of Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551, 124 S. Ct. 1284, 157 L. Ed. 2d 1068 (2004). In Groh, the court held: “The fact that the application adequately described the ‘things to be seized’ does not save the warrant from its facial invalidity. The Fourth Amendment by its terms requires particularity in the warrant, not in the supporting documents. See Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 988, n.5 [104 S. Ct. 3424, 82 L. Ed. 2d 737] (1984) (‘[A] warrant that fails to conform to the particularity requirement of the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional’)
Obviously, since this is a reversal of a conviction, there has to be a dissent [pdf].
There’s also a pretty summary disposal of a habeas appeal, some constancy claims from a child sex assault conviction that are handily dismissed and this last one that holds that evidence of unemployment is admissible as motive for robbery (and then the usual: even if it was prejudicial, it was harmless. I really hate harmless error. Hate.)
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