D.R.I.: CSLI warrant lacked PC and GFE not applied

In what may be a first, the District of Rhode Island suppresses both CSLI and an apartment search warrant for lack of probable cause and then declines to apply the good faith exception. United States v. Ramos, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115180 (D. R.I. July 11, 2019):

Because a CSLI search is a Fourth Amendment search under Carpenter v. United States, the police must give a substantial basis for a magistrate judge to find probable cause of criminal evidence in the “location” (number) searched. Additionally, the First Circuit has held that when the “primary basis” for a search is information from a confidential informant, law enforcement must give the reviewing magistrate a basis for determining the informant’s credibility. United States v. White, 804 F.3d 132, 136 (1st Cir. 2015). Here, the police decided to search the cell records and CSLI for 508-649-XXXX because a “credible confidential source” had linked the number to Mr. Ramos, a known fugitive. ECF 37-1 at 4. The only connection between the site of the search (the 508 number) and potential criminality (Mr. Ramos) was the State Police’s conclusory assertion that its informant was credible. It provided no reason for the reviewing magistrate to conclude that the informant was credible, as required by United States v. White. Moreover, it gave no other information that might lead the magistrate to link the phone number to criminal activity, like the corroboration in Gates established. The CSLI search warrant for the 508 number thus lacked probable cause.

. . .

The good-faith exception would not save either the CSLI warrant or the physical search warrant. As stated before, the affidavit in support of the CSLI warrant contained only the bare assertion that a credible, confidential source had linked the 508 number to Mr. Ramos. Under Levin, it is thus ineligible for the good faith exception because it so lacks any indicia of probable cause that the magistrate’s official belief in its existence was unreasonable. The physical search warrant does not enjoy the protection of this exception either. The court in Levin emphasized that a reviewing court must consider all the attendant circumstances in evaluating whether an officer’s belief that a warrant was valid was objectively reasonable. See Levin, 874 F.3d at 322 (quoting United States v. Ricciardelli, 998 F.2d 8, 15 (1st Cir. 1993)). The officers executing the physical search warrant can safely be presumed to have known the circumstances under which the CSLI warrant was issued, as well as the circumstances surrounding the entry into Mr. Ramos’ home (indeed, the warrantless search and the search under warrant took place immediately consecutively). The searching officer’s belief that the subsequent physical search warrant was valid cannot be considered objectively reasonable given the illegal CSLI search and ensuing illegal entry of Mr. Ramos’ home.

This entry was posted in Cell site location information, Good faith exception, Probable cause. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.