E.D.Mo.: Affiant officers in drug cases don’t have to be chemistry experts to state conclusions about drugs

The affiant officers stated conclusions about the chemistry of some of the drugs in the 24 search warrants issued in this case. The law doesn’t require they be chemistry majors, experts, or Walter White to state those conclusions when the question is probable cause. “Contrary to defendant Wolfe’s argument, neither the Fourth Amendment nor the courts require that an affiant marshal trial-worthy proof or have the expertise of a high-level scientist for a judge to issue a search warrant in a drug investigation. Such qualifications are irrelevant.” United States v. Wolfe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184485 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 14, 2016):

Thus, it was not per se reckless for the affiants in this case, who needed only to establish the lesser standard of a “fair probability” that a crime was occurring, to agree with or to set forth a competing scientific theory like what is held by defendant Wolfe’s expert. And they had a good faith basis for putting forth their facts as discussed below. The record bears no reason to doubt that the agents could fairly rely on the legitimate scientific research they used and other material, and then comment on it accurately in affidavits to the issuing judges. And there is no evidence that these affiants did knowingly and intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth entertain “serious doubts as to the truth of [their] statements or had obvious reasons to doubt the accuracy of the information [they] reported,” simply because they lacked advanced degrees in science. United States v. McIntyre, 646 F.3d 1107, 1113-14 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). This point should be denied.

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