United States v. Sergio Diaz-Ortiz (8th Cir. June 2019)

The Federal Docket

August 25, 2019

Fourth Amendment/Search Warrants – Suppression was not warranted after law enforcement violated the knock-and-announce rule while entering the defendant’s hotel room  to detain him while obtaining a search warrant, since the warrant subsequently issued was based solely on evidence obtained prior to the illegal entry.

The district court had declined to suppress evidence after law enforcement unlawfully entered the defendant’s hotel room in order to detain him while they sought and obtained a search warrant. The court held that the warrant, which was issued based solely on evidence obtained prior to the illegal entry, was an independent source for the evidence seized. (Notably, the district court did suppress statements the defendant made while he was detained).

On appeal, under plain error review, the Court held that, assuming officers violated the knock-and-announce rule under 18 U.S.C. § 3109, which requires officers to announce themselves before executing a warrant, suppression of the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant was not warranted.

Citing Supreme Court precedent in Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586 (2006), and numerous circuits applying that precedent to suppression issues, the Court held that a knock-and-talk violation does not mandate suppression when a valid search warrant exists and the knock-and-announce violation has “nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence.” Here, the warrant was valid, and officers would have executed it and seized the evidence regardless of the alleged violation.

Appeal from the Western District of Missouri

Opinion by Melloy, joined by Shepherd and Grasz

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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