Thursday, February 28, 2013

KYCOA Feb 8 - Bounds - Sufficiency of Affidavit

Bounds v. Commonwealth, 2011-CA-000671-MR.  To be published. 

Opinion Affirming by Acree, Nickell and Stumbo concurring.

Issue: sufficiency of affidavit for search warrant.

Affidavit for search warrant of Bounds’ residence contained the following facts:

Citizen Harshfield played an answering machine message for Detective Blanton with Bounds asking Harshfield to purchase “some pills.”  Harshfield said Bounds came by his apartment asking Harshfield bo buy pseudoephedrine.  Harshfield said he had bought pseudoephedrine for Bounds one month prior.  Harshfield said he once saw “Coleman fuel, yellow ammonia stuff, and ether in a can” in Bounds’ car.  An anonymous informant told Blanton that Bounds asked him to purchase pseudoephedrine.  “Meth check” showed Bounds had bought pseudoephedrine.  Blanton had received numerous tips that Bounds was cooking meth.

Bounds challenged affidavit by claiming probable cause was not established because it did not say that pseudoephedrine may be used in the production methamphetamine or that Det. Blanton had any knowledge or training of a link between pseudoephedrine and the manufacture of methamphetamine.  The Court of Appeals panel found such was not needed because it is well known among law enforcement that pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine. 

Bounds also challenged the affidavit because there was no nexus between the suspected criminal activity and Bounds’ residence.  “The critical element in a reasonable search is not that the owner of the property is suspected of crime but that there is reasonable cause to believe that the specific ‘things’ to be searched for and seized are located on the property to which entry is sought.” Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547, 556 (1978).  In response, the Court of Appeals found that “in the case of drug dealers evidence is likely to be found where the dealers live.”  Beckam v. Commonwealth, 284 S.W.3d 547 (Ky. App. 2009).  The Court of Appeals concluded that they discern no meaningful distinction between a person dealing drugs and a person manufacturing drugs with respect to where that person may store drugs and related drug paraphernalia and that it is reasonable to assume a person who manufactures drugs does so at his residence.

Contributed by Molly Mattingly