D.V.I.: Failure to include limiting attachments at time of execution of SW was 4A violation, but mere oversight and exclusionary rule not applied

The search warrant had the wrong address, but there were attachments to it when presented to the USMJ which gave the correct address. In addition, the affiant was familiar with the place to be searched, and he went along on the raid to be sure the search went as planned. When the search warrant was presented to the target, however, the attachments correctly identifying the place to be searched weren’t there. While Groh was violated on the lack of particularity of the place to be searched, the court finds the mistake mere negligence and not systemic warranting application of the exclusionary rule. The court distinguishes a case where the officer was inexperienced and got such a pass with this case where the officer was experienced. United States v. Merchant, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143457 (D. V.I. Aug. 23, 2019):

Instead, under the totality of the circumstances here, with the exception of his failure to serve the attachments with the warrant, the Court finds that TFO President otherwise exhibited great care in applying for and executing the warrant. The record reflects that TFO President conducted surveillance of the property on several occasions, both from the ground and the air; he went to the Lieutenant Governor’s office in an attempt to obtain the correct address for the property he was surveilling; and he provided a very detailed description of the property to be searched, including the blue tarp fencing, the color of the house, the water tank and its specific location, and even the color of the cars parked on the property. The record further reflects that the search team was briefed on two occasions prior to the execution of the search in order to review the items to be seized during the search; TFO President personally participated in the search; and no items beyond the scope of the warrant was seized during the search. These surrounding circumstances belie any suggestion that, in failing to serve the attachments with the warrant, TFO President acted in deliberate or reckless disregard of Defendant’s constitutional rights.

Because the Court finds that TFO President’s failure to serve the attachments to the warrant neither stemmed from deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct, nor demonstrated recurring or systemic negligence, the application of the exclusionary rule here would not serve a sufficient deterrent effect and justify the costs of suppression. Franz, 772 F.3d at 149. Accordingly, the Court finds that, to the extent that Merchant’s Motion to Suppress is grounded in an illegal search stemming from an invalid search warrant, his Motion will be denied.

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