Thursday, January 25, 2007

U.S. v. Hector (9th Cir. - Jan. 25, 2007)

I agree with Judge McKeown here. Judge Pregerson -- up in L.A. -- (1) suppressed the results of a search because the officers didn't give the occupant a copy of the warrant, and (2) entered a post-trial judgment of acquittal on Count Two, which charged the defendant with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, holding that the government had merely demonstrated possession of the weapon, not use in furtherance.

Judge McKeown, in a very well-written opinion, reverses on both issues. I think she's right.

The warrant issue seems controlled by the reasoning (if not the holding) of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hudson, which held that suppression isn't proper for constitutional violations that fall short of being the unattenuated but-for cause of obtaining the disputed evidence. And although parsing out the many fact-specific cases on both sides of the acquittal issue isn't easy, I also think that the evidence was sufficient here to establish possession in furtherance -- or at least that a rational jury could so conclude.

The only thing I'd change about this opinion is the double-negative that Judge McKeown uses on page 1011. But, hey, I wouldn't have written nearly as good of an opinion as she did, so take my complaint in this regard as merely the whine that it is.