Weekly Case Summaries: August 19, 2011

5th Circuit

United States v. Soto, No. 10-40518 8/9/11

Issue:

Did roving border patrol agents have reasonable suspicion to conduct a temporary detention?

Holding:

Yes; although a decidedly close case under the Brignoni-Ponce factors, the reasonable inferences that could be drawn from the circumstances known and the conduct observed by the agents were sufficient to warrant reasonable suspicion justifying the stop.
Read opinion.

Dissent:

No, because there is no evidence that the vehicle came from the border or its occupants made any attempt to hide, and the other factors contributed nothing significant.

Commentary:

This is a VERY close case. If the Supreme Court wants to revisit Brignoni-Ponce in any way, you might expect the Court to grant a writ of certiorari. Read this case to determine what the bare minimum suspicion might be in order to justify a "border stop."

 

Court of Appeals

Steele v. State, No. 01-10-00788/00789-CR 8/10/11

Issue:

Did the search warrant affidavit set forth substantial facts establishing probable cause?

Holding:

Yes; although the affidavit lacked specific dates, it provided an adequate frame of reference and contained evidence that the appellant continued to be in possession of child pornography at the time the search warrant was issued and executed.
Read opinion.

Dissent:

No; the affidavit was based entirely on hearsay information taken at unspecified times from two informants of unknown credibility and reliability who reported the appellant's activities at similarly unspecified times and places in the past.

Commentary:

The two informants in this case were named in the affidavit, and the basis for their information was clearly identified. So it appears that the dissent has missed the crucial issue. Of course, it should always be the case that pertinent dates be included in a search warrant affidavit. So make sure that mistake is not repeated. But the continuing nature of the offenses being committed by this defendant helped to ensure that the affidavit was sufficient to support a finding that child pornography would still be in the defendant's residence.


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