U.S. v. Grant, No. 11-50036 (6-11-12)(Berzon with Thomas and Wardlaw).
Who is buried in Grant's tomb? The answer to which should be sufficient to have probable cause to see if Grant is, indeed, buried there. To reply that there is possibly a weapon that was used in a homicide nine months earlier, which may have a tangential relationship to the sons of the occupant of the site is something else. Yes, that is the situation here, except instead of Grant's tomb, we have Grant's home. The weapon was a firearm. In searching the home, the police did not find the firearm they were looking for, but two others, and because the defendant was a prohibited possessor (prior felony), he was charged. The district court found no probable cause, but did find a Leon reliance exception. (468 US 897(1984)). The 9th agreed that probable cause was lacking, and also held that the Leon "good faith" exception was not met. Law enforcement should have known that probable cause was lacking, and there was no basis for believing that it existed. The 9th concluded that the officers put down everything they knew about the homicide, and the firearm, but had no real tangible connection to Grant or Grant's home except wild speculation. They wanted to search because, well, why not? Something might be there. That is not good enough. The evdience must be suppressed.
Congratulations to AFPD Matt Lawson of the FPD Office, California Central (Los Angeles).