D.S.C.: Cut and paste “clerical error” on address of place to be searched was overcome by GFE

Officers sought a search warrant for defendant’s house at 2681 Houston Street. The search warrant itself, obviously called up on a computer from another case, had 3438 Navajo Street, and nobody noticed the difference, including the judge who reviewed the warrant. The Houston Street address was defendant’s and that was the one searched, and heroin was found. This is a mere “clerical error” even though it happened twice. United States v. Grant, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94849 (D. S.C. June 6, 2018):

Furthermore, to the extent that the inclusion of the Navajo Street address in the probable cause section of the search warrant was as the result of a clerical error, “honest errors by the affiant are not grounds for suppression.” United States v. Sanchez, 725 F.3d 1243, 1247 (10th Cir. 2013). The court certainly questions how a clerical error could have occurred twice in the probable cause section of the search warrant, which is the only substantive section of the search warrant. But unless the officers made “a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth” in the warrant affidavit and “the allegedly false statement is necessary to the finding of probable cause,” there has been no Fourth Amendment violation. Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 155-56, 98 S. Ct. 2674, 57 L. Ed. 2d 667 (1978). After all, the exclusionary rule “is designed to deter police misconduct rather than to punish the errors of judges and magistrates.” Leon, 468 U.S. at 916.

Certainly, as the Tenth Circuit has reasoned “[s]loppiness in writing, and approving, affidavits for warrants is an unfortunate, and sometimes costly, error.” United States v. Perry, 181 F. App’x 750, 753 (10th Cir. 2006). But the inclusion of the Navajo Street address in the affidavit was not “so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable.” Leon, 468 U.S. at 923 (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, Grant’s motion to suppress is denied under Leon.

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