People v. Manzo, 2018 IL 122761 (December). Episode 573 (Duration 10:14)
This one will be controversial: Illinois Supreme Court holds their was no nexus to the house justifying the search warrant.
3 buys from a guy is used for a search warrant into the house the guy came from. None of the buys occurred at the house. Defendant was not the target, but it was his house.
An undercover had purchased from the cousin 3 times over 20 days. 2 purchases were near the vicinity of the home.
Purchase #1 – Police purchase $150 of cocaine from Defendant’s girlfriend’s cousin. Deal goes down at a supermarket. Police see the target getting out of a black Ford Explorer. Defendant drives away in the same black Ford Explorer. The Explorer came back registered to Defendant’s girlfriend listed at residing in Defendant’s house.
Purchase #2 – Police arrange for the purchase of $300 of cocaine. This time the sale occurs at a liquor store.
Purchase #3 – Arrangement for purchase of $150 worth of cocaine is made. This time police are watching the house. They see the cousin leave the house and walk to the liquor store. Then the cousin called the officer to change locations, and had him walk to a grocery store where the deal went down.
Not sure if police knew the target was Defendant’s girlfriend’s cousin. They only know he is “associated” with her, and they know where she lives. Defendant is not known to police at this time.
Police never established where he lived.
Police never established how long he was at the house before he left for the last deal.
Police never established where he was before the first and second deals.
Police never established if he really had access to larger amounts.
Police find 348 grams of cocaine, a handgun, ammunition, a digital scale, a box of plastic bags, over $9000 in United States currency, and proof of residency for both defendant and the target.
The cocaine, the handgun, the ammunition, the digital scale, and the box of plastic bags were found in a safe inside the master bedroom closet.
The cash was found in the pockets of two jackets in the master bedroom closet. Defendant’s proof of residency was found in a bedroom drawer and elsewhere in the house. None of the paperwork concerning the cousin’s residency indicated that house was his address.
Defendant was found not guilty of the drug charges but was convicted of the gun charge.
Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, arguing that the officers lacked probable cause to search his home. The motion argued that, prior to the execution of the search warrant, no corroborating information was sought or found by the responding police officers to verify that the target ever resided at the residence.
The four corners of the search warrant completely lacked sufficient probable cause to conduct the search that led to defendant’s arrest and to the seizure of certain items of purported evidence.
Probable cause exists in a particular case when the totality of the facts and circumstances within the affiant’s knowledge at the time the warrant is applied for “was sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that the law was violated and evidence of it is on the premises to be searched.” People v. Griffin, 178 Ill. 2d 65, 77 (1997). It is the probability of criminal activity, rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that is the standard for determining whether probable cause is present. Tisler, 103 Ill. 2d at 236.
Whether the necessary probability exists is governed by commonsense considerations that are factual and practical, rather than by technical rules. Id. As the United States Supreme Court explained in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983):
“The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the ‘veracity’ and ‘basis of knowledge’ of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”
Moreover, in determining whether an affidavit demonstrates the existence of probable cause, the resolution of doubtful or marginal cases should Whether the necessary probability exists is governed by commonsense considerations that are factual and practical, rather than by technical rules. In determining whether an affidavit demonstrates the existence of probable cause, the resolution of doubtful or marginal cases should largely be determined by the preference to be accorded to the warrants.
The House Was Clean
Defendant points out that there was no direct evidence that criminal activity was occurring in defendant’s home, as there were no observations that the target was dealing drugs from the home, and defendant was not the target of the search. Defendant contends that, in the absence of direct information, the warrant application must establish a nexus or connection between the criminal offense, the items to be seized, and the place to be searched.
Defendant claims that a person’s simple presence in a home, for an undetermined amount of time before conducting a drug transaction in public, does not establish a fair probability that criminal activity was ongoing in the home.
There Was A Nexus With The Home
Here, police knew the following:
- two of the three drug buys conducted over a period of 203 days occurred in the vicinity of the home
- the target arrived at the location of the first drug buy in a vehicle registered to defendant’s girlfriend/wife
- she listed the home as her place of address
- target was at the residence when 3rd deal was negotiated by text
- police see the target exit the residence and walk to the grocery store where the third deal takes place
- police knew the target was an associate of defendant’s girlfriend who resided at the resident
- The target used a vehicle registered to defendant’s residence to drive to the first drug transaction
The connection between the target and defendant was not explained, and the connection to defendant’s girlfriend on its own did not create an inference that the target and defendant were involved in drug dealing, let alone that the cousin was storing evidence of drug dealing at defendant’s home.
In fact there was no discussion of defendant in the complaint, particularly any evidence that he had ever been suspected of, arrested for, or charged with any crime, much less a drug-related offense. Indeed, there was no information in the complaint concerning whether the cousin had a prior criminal history. There was nothing in the complaint indicating that he had ever been arrested for, or convicted of, a drug-related offense or had been involved in drug dealing prior to the three transactions.
Yea, But He Drove Her Truck
At best, the totality of facts and circumstances in the sworn complaint creates an inference connecting Hernandez’s vehicle to the drug sale, but it fails to further connect defendant’s home to the drug sale. The fact that an alleged drug dealer drives another individual’s car to one drug deal does not create an inference that the vehicle’s owner has contraband in his or her home and does not justify a search of the vehicle owner’s home. To hold otherwise could expose virtually any innocent third party to a search of the home. Such a result would be entirely at odds with the protections accorded an individual’s home under the fourth amendment.
Yea, But The Deals Were Close By
The State also argues that, because the second and third drug sales took place at businesses within a five-minute and three-minute walk of the hoem, it was reasonable to infer that the target was familiar with the neighborhood around. Therefore, the State claims that it was reasonable to infer that the residence was a logical and convenient place for him to store and access his drug supply and his tools of drug dealing.
Here too, we do not agree with the State that an inference arises based upon the location of the two drug sales vis-á-vis defendant’s home.
No evidence was presented that defendant lived at the home, nor was there evidence that he was a frequent visitor. The cousin was seen at the house one time, and it’s not clear the police knew what the cousin’s legal address was.
In addition, with regard to the second sale, the sworn complaint contains no information describing whether the cousin walked or drove to that sale, nor does the complaint describe where he had been immediately prior to that sale. Absent such information, we find no basis for the State’s inference finding significance based upon the proximity of the second sale to defendant’s home.
In any event, that the target conducted two drug sales in the vicinity of, the residence, and may have been familiar with the area, does not give rise to an inference that he would store his contraband in defendant’s home, as opposed to any other home in the vicinity of the drug sales. Here, the information set forth in the sworn complaint fails to connect defendant’s home to the cousin’s drug sales. Therefore, the complaint does not create a nexus between the specific items listed in the complaint for a search warrant and defendant’s home sufficient to support a finding of probable cause to issue the search warrant.
Yea, But Dude Left The House For The Last Deal
The State also argues that the fact that the cousin left the home to complete the third drug sale supports an inference that it is likely that the cousin possessed the drugs there and also supports an inference that his drug supply and other tools of drug dealing were stored there. Again, we disagree that any such inferences flow from the evidence in the affidavit.
He went to one of three drug sales from defendant’s home. The three drug sales took place over a period of 19 days. With regard to the third drug sale, there was no evidence indicating how long he had been at defendant’s home before he left the home and walked to the drug sale.
While the cousin apparently had the drugs on his person when he left the home to meet the officer for the third drug sale, it does not follow that he obtained those drugs from defendant’s home as opposed to any other place. Without more information connecting defendant’s home to the drug sale, it is equally possible to infer that the cousin had the drugs on his person when he arrived at defendant’s home.
The complaint for a search warrant failed to supply the necessary nexus between defendant’s home and the evidence sought in the complaint.
The facts and inferences in the sworn complaint were more suggestive of an occasional sale than a full-scale drug operation, much less a drug operation run out of defendant’s home. There was no allegation in the complaint that the amount of drugs sold was indicative of a large-scale drug operation, nor was there an allegation that the cousin was a known drug dealer.
Even assuming this dealer had access to a ready supply of drugs, the sworn complaint fails to create a nexus between defendant’s home and that supply. There certainly was no evidence in the sworn complaint supporting an inference that defendant’s home was a “stash house.”
At best, the complaint established that the cousin was an acquaintance of the owners of the residence. It did not establish a nexus to believe evidence of his illegal activities would be found in the residence.
This complaint does not describe drug distribution techniques, or habits of drug dealers, that might support an inference that the target stored his drugs and tools of the drug trade at defendant’s home.
Aside from the three sales to the undercover, there was no evidence that the cousin was an established drug dealer with an ongoing, regular trade or whether the amount of drugs sold was consistent with personal use.
Contrary to the lower courts, we find those facts fail to establish a sufficient nexus between the cousin’s criminal activities and the residence.
The sworn statement broadly concludes that the evidence sought will be found at defendant’s house, without providing any basis sufficient to establish probable cause for that conclusion. The totality of the circumstances fails to establish a nexus between the drug deals and defendant’s home. The magistrate had no substantial basis to conclude that probable cause existed to believe that evidence of the crimes of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver would be found in a search of this residence.
For that reason, the search warrant in this case was not supported by probable cause and was thereby invalid.
The trial court therefore erred in denying defendant’s motion to quash, and the appellate court erred in affirming the trial court’s order. We reverse the appellate court’s order affirming the trial court’s order denying defendant’s motion to quash the search warrant and suppress evidence, and we reverse the trial court’s order on defendant’s motion to quash and suppress as well.
Judgments reversed. Cause remanded.
Bare Bones Search Warrant Precludes Application Of The Good Faith Exception
Keeping in mind that exclusion is a “bitter pill” that is to be used only as a “last resort” (Davis, 564 U.S. at 237 (quoting Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 591 (2006))), we nonetheless find that the affidavit in this case was bare-bones and failed to establish the required minimal nexus between defendant’s home and the items sought in the search warrant.
The good faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply in this case.
The police officers could not have acted with an objectively reasonable good faith belief that their conduct was lawful in executing the search warrant on defendant’s residence.
There are no facts directly connecting defendant’s residence with the cousin’s drug dealing activity, nor does the complaint for a search warrant create an inference connecting the drug dealing to defendant’s home. The complaint for a search warrant is conclusory, asserting only the belief that probable cause existed. We find that the facts stated in the complaint and the inferences to be draw therefrom were so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in the existence of probable cause entirely unreasonable.
This is such an unusual case.
Sanctity Of The Home
The home is the first among equals under the fourth amendment. Burns, 2016 IL 118973, ¶ 24. With regard to the search of an individual’s home, “the critical element in a reasonable search is not that the owner of the property is suspected of crime but that there is reasonable cause to believe that the specific ‘things’ to be searched for and seized are located on the property to which entry is sought.” Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547, 556 (1978).
As stated by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, “there must be, in other words, a nexus between the place to be searched and the evidence sought.” United States v. Brown, 828 F.3d 375, 381 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v. Carpenter, 360 F.3d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 2004) (en banc)).
The right of citizens to be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion into their homes prevails over the legitimate aims of law enforcement under the facts of this case. The purpose of the exclusionary rule, to deter police misconduct, has no application here.
We decline to sanction the search of a third party’s home based solely on the fact that an individual was seen leaving that home to go to one drug deal and arrived at another drug deal 19 days earlier driving a vehicle registered to that home. To hold otherwise would undermine the express protections accorded a citizen’s home under the United States and Illinois Constitutions.
See Lower Court Opinion
See Also These Other Search Warrant Cases
- The Illinois Search & Seizure Reference Page
- Episode 015 – The Anticipatory Warrant: A Search Warrant That Tells the Future
- Episode 014 – What is a Knock and Talk? Are They a Good Idea?
- Episode 168 – People v. Swanson, 2016 IL App (2d) 150340 (May) – Persistent Aggressive Deputies Push Their Way Into A Home
- Episode 328 – Litigating “Knock And Talk” Warrantless Entries With Alana De Leon
- Episode 078 – People v. Harris, 2015 IL App (1st) 132162 (June) -This Anticipatory Search Warrant Was Premature Execution
- Episode 134 – People v. Chambers, 2016 IL 117911 (January) – “John Doe” Warrants Do Not Preclude a Franks Hearing
- Episode 157 – People v. Carter, 2016 IL App (3d) 140958 (March) – It’s In The Couch: When Is A Search Warrant Expired?
- Episode 283 – People v. Fernandez, 2016 IL App (1st) 141667 (December) – Insufficient Evidence Of Habitation In This Search Warrant Case
- Episode 444 – People v. Ross, 2017 IL App (4th) 170121 (December) – Wrong Address Goes On The Search Warrant