A man’s house is his castle! The owner cannot be excluded from its sanctuary. | U.S. v. SHRUM

Did the initial securing of the Defendant’s home constitute an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment? And if so, did such seizure taint the incriminating evidence ultimately uncovered in the warrant search of his home? We answer both questions yes, and reverse.

Law enforcement unreasonably seized Defendant’s home in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Immediately thereafter, Investigator Cooke interviewed Defendant for over two hours at the police station. Defendant subsequently signed a consent to search form permitting Cooke to search his home. But given the undisputed record facts, Defendant’s consent was not an act of free will sufficient to purge the primary taint of the illegal seizure. Rather, his consent was “come at by exploitation” of such seizure. Wong Sun, 371 U.S. at 488. Consequently, Cooke unlawfully searched Defendant’s home and witnessed ammunition in the home’s bedroom closet. Probable cause, tainted from the unlawful search, arose when Cooke connected Defendant’s status as a convicted felon with the ammunition. Cooke requested federal agents to procure a search warrant and a neutral magistrate judge unknowingly issued a tainted warrant. Law enforcement executed the tainted warrant and discovered the incriminating evidence the Defendant now seeks to suppress. Necessarily, this evidence too was tainted. While the causal chain is relatively long, nowhere along the links of the chain were the “fruits” of the unlawful seizure of Defendant’s home purged of their primary taint. Accordingly, the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress is REVERSED.

Read the full opinion here: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/17/17-3059.pdf

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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