CA8: Def has burden of showing illegal detention was “but for” cause of finding evidence

Defendant was a known drug dealer, and he was parked with his hood open. He said he was checking the belt on the engine. The officer was not prohibited from approaching the car and looking under the hood, too. Defendant had the burden of showing that the alleged unlawful detention was the “but for” cause, and he failed. United States v. Class, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4601 (8th Cir. Feb. 26, 2018):

Though evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment is subject to exclusion in a criminal prosecution, “[e]vidence should not be excluded … unless the illegality is at least a but-for cause of obtaining the evidence.” United States v. Olivera-Mendez, 484 F.3d 505, 511 (8th Cir. 2007). “[T]he defendant bears the initial burden of establishing the factual nexus between the constitutional violation and the challenged evidence.” Marasco, 487 F.3d at 547. Here, the district court concluded that Officer Sand’s plain-view seizure of the bag of methamphetamine was not “meaningfully connected” to the prior unconstitutional search and seizure of Class because (i) Sand learned nothing from his frisk and detention of Class that enabled him to locate the methamphetamine, and (ii) even if Class was not detained and was standing in front of the Town Car, his assertion that he would have closed the open hood before Sand saw the bag of methamphetamine was not credible because doing so would likely have aroused the officers’ suspicion. We conclude these findings are not clearly erroneous.

Even if they lacked reasonable suspicion of ongoing criminal activity, Officers Sand and Heroux could approach Class and Hedican on a public street and request a consensual encounter. …

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