AL: Statutory violation in arrest wasn’t a 4A violation; arrest not suppressed (on rehearing)

Reversing itself on rehearing (prior opinion Berry v. State, 2019 Ala. Crim. App. LEXIS 64 (Sept. 20, 2019)), the court concludes that a potential statutory violation was not a Fourth Amendment violation. The officer knew of warrants for defendant’s arrest and he arrested him. The prior opinion finding the arrest invalid is rejected. Berry v. State, 2020 Ala. Crim. App. LEXIS 9 (Jan. 17, 2020):

Similarly, here, even if Lt. Raiti violated Berry’s constitutional rights when he arrested Berry, Lt. Raiti’s arrest of Berry was “objectively reasonable” because an officer could have reasonably believed that it was proper to arrest Berry on the already issued, active capias warrants without being in physical possession of those warrants, given this Court’s decisions in Webster and Scarbrough, which expressly hold that an officer who does not physically possess a “capias warrant” may thus still make a valid arrest “once a capias warrant has issued.” To hold that Lt. Raiti’s arrest of Berry was anything other than objectively reasonable would result in the untenable effect of informing law-enforcement officers that the opinions of this Court cannot be reasonably relied upon by them in the field. Cf. Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 99 S. Ct. 2627, 61 L. Ed. 2d 343 (1979) (holding that an officer’s assumption that a law was valid was reasonable even though the law was later declared unconstitutional and thus affirming the arrest and search incident to that arrest). “[T]he sole purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter misconduct by law enforcement.” Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 246, 131 S. Ct. 2419, 2432, 180 L. Ed. 2d 285 (2011). There has never been any allegation before the trial court or on appeal that Lt. Raiti’s arrest of Berry was anything other than “nonculpable, innocent police conduct.” And, as the United States Supreme Court has noted, it has “‘never applied’ the exclusionary rule to suppress evidence obtained as a result of nonculpable, innocent police conduct.” 564 U.S. at 240, 131 S. Ct. at 2428. As the United States Supreme Court has explained: “‘[T]he ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is “reasonableness.”‘ Riley v. California, 573 U.S. [373,] 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2482, 189 L. Ed. 2d 430 (2014) (some internal quotation marks omitted).” Heien v. North Carolina, 574 U.S. 54, 60, 135 S. Ct. 530, 536, 190 L. Ed. 2d 475 (2014). Thus, even if we agreed with Berry’s reading of § 15-10-3(a)(6), Lt. Raiti’s actions were certainly reasonable when he construed that statute in precisely the same way this Court has interpreted it.

Second, even if we had concluded that Lt. Raiti’s actions violated state law, we would hold that the exclusionary rule would not bar the admission of the drug evidence in this case. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has explained:

“The exclusionary rule is a judicially fashioned remedy aimed at deterring constitutional violations, the application of which is appropriate when the Constitution or a statute requires it. …

United States v. Abdi, 463 F.3d 547, 555-56 (6th Cir. 2006) (emphasis added).

So even if Lt. Raiti had violated § 15-10-3(a)(6) when he arrested Berry, that statutory violation would not be tantamount to a Fourth Amendment violation. Indeed, this is not a case where a police officer arrested someone without a warrant having been issued. See, e.g., State v. Phillips, 517 So. 2d 648 (Ala. Crim. App. 1987) (holding that evidence should be suppressed when there was no warrant issued for Phillips’s arrest for a misdemeanor offense and the misdemeanor was not committed in the presence of a police officer). This is also not a case where the warrants that were issued for Berry’s arrest were in some way invalid. See, e.g., Anderson v. State, 445 So. 2d 974 (Ala. Crim. App. 1983) (holding that a warrant that was accompanied by an unsigned affidavit was invalid and that evidence seized as a result of that warrant was subject to exclusion). Nor is this even a case, like Morgan, where warrants were issued after the arrest. Rather, this is a case where validly issued warrants for Berry’s arrest already existed; the officer simply did not possess them when he arrested Berry. As already stated, failure to strictly adhere to the terms of § 15-10-3(a)(6), Ala. Code 1975, in executing an arrest on a validly issued, outstanding warrant without physically possessing the warrant at the time of arrest would not automatically result in a constitutional violation, and exclusion of the evidence obtained pursuant to the search was not required.

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