Probable Cause Self-Quiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Officer Techie e-mails Judge Conservative and requests a search warrant for a storage locker which he believes contains stolen salmon. He also sends an attachment with the e-mail which contains digital pictures of masked men unloading the salmon into the locker. The picture is time-stamped by the camera which records the time as 2:37 a.m. The following day Officer Techie appears before Judge Conservative and makes a sworn statement attesting to the accuracy of the digital photos. How should Judge Conservative respond to the request for a warrant?
Choice 1 Issue the warrant, because there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable person to conclude that stolen salmon is being kept in the storage locker, and probable cause has been established by sworn testimony.
Choice 2 Issue the warrant, because the digital photographs e-mailed the night before are sufficient for police to search the locker, and the officer’s testimony was superfluous.
Choice 3 Refuse to issue the warrant, because the e-mail does not constitute a duly sworn affidavit.
Choice 4 Refuse to issue the warrant, because there is insufficient evidence to convict anyone.
Officer Cartman hates hippies. He goes to Judge Mills and asks for a search warrant to look for drugs in “that dirty hippy Chris’ house.” He provides sworn testimony that “I know there are drugs there ‘cause all hippies do drugs.” Should Judge Mills issue the warrant?
Choice 1 Yes, because Officer Cartman’s professional opinion as to the presence of drugs is sufficient probable cause.
Choice 2 Yes, because probable cause may be demonstrated by live, sworn testimony and an affidavit is not always required.
Choice 3 No, because Officer Cartman’s suspicions do not meet the quantum of evidence necessary to establish probable cause.
Choice 4 No, because Officer Cartman has a history of using excessive force while arresting hippies and Judge Mills cannot in good faith grant Officer Cartman the opportunity to do so again.
Officer Cartman returns to Judge Mills the next day with photographs of Chris disposing of D-Z Wider cigarette rolling paper packaging in the garbage. The paper is commonly used to make marijuana cigarettes. Since the garbage was left open to the public, Officer Cartman also picked through the garbage and seized the D-Z Wider package and brought it along with the photographs as additional evidence. This time, given the new evidence, Officer Mills issues the warrant. Before serving the warrant, Cartman celebrates with punch and pie. Was the celebration premature?
Choice 1 Yes, the warrant was invalid because the presence of D-Z Wider packaging would not lead a reasonable person to conclude that contraband is present within the house.
Choice 2 Yes, because it is too soon following a refusal to issue a warrant for Officer Cartman to make a renewed request.
Choice 3 No, because the dirty hippies probably have drugs in the house.
Choice 4 No, because Officer Cartman’s willingness to pick through the trash evidences the strength of his good faith belief that there is contraband in the house.

Judge Mills is losing her patience with Officer Cartman. The warrant she issued for Chris’ house resulted in an arrest, but the case was thrown out of court by another judge because the search was unreasonable due to the invalid warrant and the Exclusionary Rule precluded using the drugs found in the house as evidence against Chris. This time Officer Cartman comes to Judge Mills with the following evidence: A receipt for a gun purchased by Joe last year which matches the type of gun used in the shooting. A local convenience store camera tape showing Joe was just two blocks away from the scene five minutes prior to the shooting. An affidavit from Joe’s mother indicating that he had an argument with the victim earlier that day. A receipt from L-Mart showing that Joe purchased bullets identical to those used in the shooting just 2 hours before the incident. Cartman wants a warrant to search Joe’s house for the gun. Should Judge Mills issue the warrant this time?
Choice 1 Yes, because Officer Cartman has worked hard enough at collecting the evidence that he deserves a chance to prove himself right.
Choice 2 Yes, because the evidence is sufficient to establish probable cause.
Choice 3 No, because Cartman’s poor track record with the Judge should establish sufficient doubt in the Judge’s mind to outweigh any evidence Cartman might produce.
Choice 4 No, because the evidence is insufficient to establish the presence of contraband in the house.

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