Friday, July 11, 2014

U.S. v. Ruiz (9th Cir. - July 11, 2014)

At 4:20 in the morning, two armed men knock on the door of a trailer, struggle with its occupant, and end up shooting him in the kneecap before fleeing.  The police interview the victim and his girlfriend at the trailer after the shooting.  The girlfriend "seems evasive".  The police are shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- to find (after searching the trailer) methamphetamine and a pipe with burnt residue.  Who could believe that someone who lives in a trailer in rural Idaho and uses methamphetamine?

The police officers, not being idiots, come to the conclusion that the 4:20 a.m. forced entry into a trailer that contains methamphetamine might not have been random.  So the police use an undercover cop to make a controlled buy from the girlfriend of the shooting victim at the trailer later that same day; i.e., promptly after her boyfriend's been shot.  And the girlfriend, being an idiot, makes the sale.

Which, not surprisingly, leads to a more than a little pressure being applied on the girlfriend to help the police.  There's ultimately a search warrant, the discovery of a shotgun in the home of a felon, etc. etc.

Your typical day.

In the Ninth Circuit, the question is whether the warrant's valid.  Judge Christen writes the majority opinion.  Judge Gould dissents.  Guess which side think's the warrant's okay?


The majority says it is.  Judge Gould says it isn't.