CA8: Warrant was broad, but not constitutionally overbroad for QI under Messerschmidt

An anonymous tip corroborated by a jailhouse telephone call showed probable cause to believe plaintiff was in possession of a pet deer in violation of state game regulations. A search warrant was issued that was broader than just that one deer, but it was reasonable under Messerschmidt that it would provide other evidence. The denial of qualified immunity is reversed. Kiesling v. Holladay, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10271 (8th Cir. June 9, 2017) (2-1):

As an initial matter, the dissent appears to require actual probable cause and ignores Messerschmidt’s more lenient “entirely unreasonable” standard. Regardless, we do not agree that the inclusion of these items rendered Spurlock’s reliance on the warrant entirely unreasonable. First, the inclusion of digital storage devices does not defeat immunity because there was a fair probability that officers would find digitally stored pictures of the deer or records of its purchase or the purchase of food, pens, or other related items. At the very least, it would not be entirely unreasonable for Spurlock to reach this conclusion, and Messerschmidt explicitly approved of the seizure of evidence that helps establish possession of items related to the crimes specified in a warrant application. 565 U.S. at 552 (explaining that, even if evidence is not directly related to the target offenses, “a reasonable officer could still conclude that [such evidence] would aid in the prosecution of [the suspect] by, for example, demonstrating [his] connection to other evidence found [nearby]“).

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