E.D.Cal.: Govt failed in its burden of proof on justification for protective sweep

The court finds, with the evidence in equipoise, the government didn’t meet its burden of showing the arrest happened inside defendant’s house or outside. This is critical, because the police did a protective sweep and used that to get a search warrant. Thus, the motion to suppress is granted. United States v. Rucks, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200149 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2022). This case is interesting in the court’s explanation of how it credited the testimony from both sides, finding the defendant’s testimony credible, too.

The court thus concludes this case presents the “rare[]” situation in which the evidence is in equipoise, with the allocation of the appropriate burden determining the result. Goldman Sachs Grp., Inc. v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement Sys., 141 S. Ct. 1951, 1963, 210 L. Ed. 2d 347 (2021) (explaining district court’s “task” is to review all evidence and determine “whether [one narrative] is more likely than not”; allocation of burden only has “bite … when the court finds the evidence in equipoise”). Here, the government had the burden to show it was more likely than not Mr. Rucks was arrested inside his apartment. See Matlock, 415 U.S. at 177 n.14. It has not met that burden. For purposes of resolving the motion to suppress then, the court assumes Mr. Rucks was arrested outside his home.

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