N.D.Tex.: Nexus & GFE: Officer’s experience drug dealers keep stuff at home alone is not enough; some fact connecting home required

Officer’s experience alone that drugs and paraphernalia are often kept at the alleged dealer’s home does not satisfy the good faith exception. There must also be some facts connecting the house to the drug offense away from the home. United States v. Bell, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78339 (N.D. Tex. May 9, 2019):

The Court first addresses whether the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule should apply to the officers’ search of the Laureland Residence. The Court recognizes that the Fifth Circuit “has often found good-faith reliance on a warrant to search a defendant’s home where the affiant alleged (1) the defendant’s involvement in drug trafficking and (2) that—based on the affiant’s law enforcement experience—such criminals keep drug paraphernalia at their homes.” United States v. Fields, 380 F. App’x 400, 403 (5th Cir. 2010). Although an allegation “that—based on the affiant’s law enforcement experience—[drug trafficking] criminals keep drug paraphernalia at their homes” on its face would appear conclusory, for purposes of the good-faith exception, the Fifth Circuit has found that good faith exists when this allegation is paired with non-conclusory facts about a suspect’s drug trafficking. Id. at 403-04; see United States v. Pickens, Crim. No. 3:12-CR-356-D, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39235, 2013 WL 1155414, at *8 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 21, 2013) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (holding that “sufficient indicia of probable cause as to the location nexus” existed when officer inferred that drug-trafficking evidence might be at the suspect’s residence).

The Court finds that this general observation of Fields does not apply to the instant case for two reasons. …

. . .

The Court turns first to the issue of the affidavit’s facts concerning Bell’s drug-trafficking activity. When a warrant to search a suspect’s residence depends upon criminal activity that did not necessarily occur at the suspect’s residence, “[f]acts in the affidavit must establish a nexus between the house to be searched and the evidence sought.” United States v. Payne, 341 F.3d 393, 400 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing United States v. Freeman, 685 F.2d 942, 949 (5th Cir. 1982)). “The nexus may be established through direct observation or through ‘normal inferences as to where the articles sought would be located.'” Id. (quoting Freeman, 685 F.2d at 949).

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