E.D.Tex.: Burden on defense to show GFE doesn’t apply

The good faith exception is determined before probable cause. If there is objective good faith, the rest doesn’t matter. The burden is on the defense to show the good faith exception doesn’t apply. United States v. Ledesma, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152311 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 24, 2022)*:

Accordingly, when a defendant moves to suppress evidence obtained with a warrant, courts generally determine first whether the good-faith exception applies. See, e.g., United States v. Sibley, 448 F.3d 754, 757 (5th Cir. 2006); Payne, 341 F.3d at 399; United States v. McGaffey, No. 4:21-cr-113-JDK-KPJ, ECF No. 44 at *4 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 12, 2021). If the exception applies, then courts typically deny the motion without deciding whether the warrant was based on probable cause. United States v. Gates, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132461, at *1 (E.D. Tex. July 16, 2021) (citing United States v. Cherna, 184 F.3d 403, 407 (5th Cir. 1999) (If the good-faith exception applies, courts do not need to decide “whether there was a substantial basis for the magistrate’s determination that probable cause existed.”); United States v. Maggitt, 778 F.2d 1029, 1033 (5th Cir. 1985) (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 264, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983) (White, J., concurring)).

In determining whether the good-faith exception applies, the Court does not “attempt an ‘expedition into the minds of police officers’ to determine their subjective belief regarding the validity of the warrant.” Payne, 341 F.3d at 400 (quoting Leon, 468 U.S. at 922 n.23). Rather, the Court’s inquiry is “confined to the objectively ascertainable question whether a reasonably well-trained officer would have known that the search was illegal despite the magistrate’s authorization.” Leon, 468 U.S. at 922 n.23. Such an inquiry “will ordinarily depend on an examination of the affidavit by the reviewing court” and will consider “all of the circumstances” surrounding the warrant. Payne, 341 F.3d at 400; Leon, 468 U.S. at 922 n.23. “Issuance of a warrant by a magistrate normally suffices to establish good faith on the part of law enforcement officers.” E.g., United States v. Shugart, 117 F.3d 838, 843-44 (5th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

The Fifth Circuit has recognized four situations in which the good-faith exception generally does not apply—only two of which are relevant here: “when the warrant affidavit is so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence unreasonable” and when “the issuing [judge] was misled by information in an affidavit that the affiant knew or reasonably should have known was false.” United States v. Powell, 850 F. App’x 284, 285 (5th Cir. 2021); Docket No. 143 at 4.

When challenging the application of the good-faith exception, the defendant bears the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the exception does not apply. United States v. Rosa, 721 Fed. App’x 403, 404 (5th Cir. 2018).

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