Wednesday, December 28, 2011

U.S. v. Valenzuela-Espinoza, No. 10-10060 (12-28-11)(B. Fletcher with Reinhardt and Tashima).

"Because the delay in presenting the defendant to a magistrate was unreasonable, his statements made more than six hours after his arrest must be suppressed" under McNabb and Mallory. The defendant here was arrested during a drug bust of his house, where marijuana was stored and where guns were present. He was arrested around 11:15 A.M. but did not see a judge until the next day at 2:00 P.M., despite the fact that the court was ten miles away and the agents were "sitting" on the house to secure it. The district court reasoned that the agents were doing law enforcement activities and were within the six-hour safe harbor of McNabb. Moreover, paperwork had to be completed for the defendant to appear at the 2:00 P.M. Tucson magistrate court hearing. The 9th reversed and suppressed. The defendant could have been brought, and it was unreasonable to simply sit at the house to secure the scene and wait for the warrants. There were nine officers present. The internal agreement between the court and the prosecutor and law enforcement for paperwork to be done by 10:30 A.M. for a 2:00 P.M. hearing cannot trump what is reasonable and cannot trump the federal rules. Under McNabb and Mallory, the statements must be suppressed for unreasonable delay.

This decision has obvious implications for the Tucson court procedures regarding recent arrests in the vicinity.

U.S. v. Shetler, No. 10-50478 (12-28-11) (Reinhardt with Berzon and Kennelly, D.J.).

The prosecution did not carry its burden of showing that the defendant's statements were not the product of the concedely illegal search of his house and garage. The 9th reverses the denial of the suppression and remands. The defendant here was arrested when he came out of his garage. The police had probable cause to believe drug-making (meth) was afoot. They did a quick sweep of the garage, legally, and then held the defendant for five hours while they illegally searched his house and garage again. He was confronted with evidence and confessed later. The government conceded the subsequent searches were illegal. The 9th then examined whether the statements were a result of the illegal search. They were. The subsequent searches produced more specific evidence of meth dealing. Moreover, in a good overview of the analysis of the law pertaining to statements resulting from illegal searches, the 9th finds that being confronted withs specific evidence, and knowledge that the evidence was found, all supported connecting the statements to the result of the illegal search. There was still enough evidence for avoid a judgment of acquittal and so the case was remanded.

Congratulations to AFPDs Lilianna Coronado and Ashwim Shrikrishna Mate of the FPD Office of the Central District of California (Los Angeles).


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