Informant's reputation does not invalidate warrant, says court
The Iowa Court of Appeals in State v. Haase examined whether police seeking a warrant recklessly disregarded the truth by failing to raise the alleged lack of credibility of their informant in their warrant application. The court issued its opinion yesterday.
The appellant-defendant argued that, ““The State misled the issuing magistrate by ignoring and withholding pertinent exculpatory evidence.'"
In its decision, the Court noted that it is the impeachment of the officer seeking and swearing to the warrant that is at issue in a so-called Franks issue regarding reckless disregard of the truth—not the impeachment of the informant himself or herself.
Citing the Franks decision, the Court recalled that ““[t]he deliberate falsity or reckless disregard whose impeachment is permitted . . . is only that of the affiant, not of any nongovernmental informant.”
The Court of Appeals noted informants have common traits that call them into question precisely because they operate in the same circles as criminals.
““[M]ost informants have issues such as drug use, questionable associates, criminal records or other characteristics which general law-abiding individuals do not have” and “[i]t is these exact circumstances that put them in a situation where they learn information which is useful to law enforcement,” wrote the court.
Moreover, the Court noted that the informant was the alleged dealer’s girlfriend, lived in the house for a year, had been in the searched premises a day earlier than her proffer to officers, and provided extremely detailed information as to location and quantity of methamphetamine. The Court seized on this level of detail to substantiate the veracity of the informant’s statements, citing to an earlier state case for that proposition.
“[S]he identified several hiding places for the methamphetamine, including 'a black plastic mug/thermos with a removable piece concealing a hidden space inside,' 'tubes of caulking . . . hidden in a pile of tools in the main living room area,' and a 'speaker enclosure.'
The Court thus found that the warrant application did not recklessly disregard the truth and affirmed the lower court ruling finding same.
The appellant-defendant in this case is likely to seek additional levels of appeal.
NOTE: David A. Cmelik Law PLC had no involvement in the Haase case.
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