CAAF: When PC for warrant was a close call, GFE applies

The question of probable cause for defendant’s UA was a close call. Therefore, the good faith exception applies. The officers essentially did everything right and that should be rewarded, and there’s no reason to reverse the finding of probable cause they relied upon. United States v. Hernandez, 2021 CAAF LEXIS 752 (C.A.A.F. Aug. 12, 2021):

Suppression of evidence gathered pursuant to a warrant is a “last resort, not our first impulse.” Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 140, 129 S. Ct. 695, 172 L. Ed. 2d 496 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). Moreover, “[t]he fact that a neutral magistrate has issued a warrant is the clearest indication that the officers acted in an objectively reasonable manner or … in objective good faith.” Messerschmidt v. Millender, 565 U.S. 535, 546, 132 S. Ct. 1235, 182 L. Ed. 2d 47 (2012) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). In this case, the magistrate found that there was probable cause to conduct the search. The military judge reviewed this finding, applied the proper law, and came to the same conclusion while also explaining why the good faith exception would apply regardless of whether probable cause existed. Although we cannot say that we would have necessarily reached the same conclusions, we also cannot say that the military judge abused his discretion, especially given that Appellee specifically disclaimed any “improper conduct” by the relevant government official. We therefore conclude that, whether or not probable cause existed to search Appellee’s urine, the military judge properly admitted the results of Appellee’s urinalysis into evidence under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule.

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