CA9: In civil challenge to PC to arrest, PC determination at preliminary hearing usually binding

In a civil case over probable cause to arrest, the USMJ’s determination of probable cause at the preliminary hearing will not be revisited absent a showing of judicial deception. Martinez v. United States, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 13888 (9th Cir. May 11, 2021):

Here, a magistrate judge determined at a preliminary hearing that the agents had probable cause to arrest Nieves Martinez and to detain him. Thus, this court will not review that finding of probable cause absent a showing that the agents engaged in judicial deception.

A judicial deception claim requires that the Nieves family “1) make a substantial showing of [the agents’] deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth and 2) establish that, but for the dishonesty, [Nieves Martinez’s arrest and detention] would not have occurred.” Chism, 661 F.3d at 386. The Nieves family did not meet their burden on either prong. First, the Nieves family asserts that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that because the test results from the laboratory were negative, there were no drugs in the Nieves family’s car. But the test results of the windshield wiper fluid were not received from the lab until weeks after the preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the magistrate judge was advised that the drug dog alerted twice on the vehicle and the wiper fluid tested positive for methamphetamines. The agents were not being deliberately misleading at the time of the hearing when they failed to disclose test results that were not received until later.

Second, the Nieves family has not made a showing that had Derryberry’s affidavit not contained falsehoods, the magistrate judge’s finding would have changed. Even if Derryberry included in the affidavit that Nieves Martinez later recanted his confession, the magistrate judge would not have had reason to know during the preliminary hearing that Nieves Martinez’s car did not contain drugs or that his original confession was false. The magistrate judge would have still known that Nieves Martinez confessed to smuggling drugs, the dog alerted to the vehicle twice, and the field test was positive for methamphetamine. Thus, the magistrate judge’s finding would not have changed if the affidavit stated that Nieves Martinez recanted his confession.

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