Court Upholds Probable Cause for Search Warrant


Case: People v. Carter

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Ronayne Krause, and Boonstra

Issues:

Probable cause for a search warrant; People v. Ulman; Whether the search warrant affidavit omitted a material fact; People v. Stumpf; Presumption that the affidavit supporting a search warrant is valid; People v. Mullen; Deference given a magistrate’s probable cause determination; People v. Whitfield; Whether the trial court should have conducted an evidentiary hearing; People v. Martin; Whether the affidavit was stale; Sgro v. United States; People v. Russo; Sentencing as a third habitual offender; Whether the prosecution timely filed notice; MCL 769.13(1); People v. Siterlet; People v. Ellis; Proof of service; MCL 769.13(2); Harmless error; People v. Walker; Alleged judicial bias; People v. McDonald; People v. Davis; People v. Stevens; People v. Conyers; Exercising reasonable control over the mode & order of interrogating witnesses & presenting evidence; MRE 611(a)(1); The trial court’s ability to interrogate witnesses; MRE 614(b); Presumption that jurors follow their instructions; People v. Abraham

Summary:

Holding that the search warrant affidavit contained sufficient information to support probable cause, the court upheld the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress. Further, the information was not stale, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing. The court also held that the prosecution complied with MCL 769.13(1) as to the third habitual offender sentencing notice, and the lack of a proof of service was harmless error. Finally, the trial court’s questioning of witnesses did not pierce the veil of judicial impartiality, show bias against defendant, or deny him a fair trial. He was convicted of felony-firearm and felon in possession of both a firearm and ammunition. He argued that there was no probable cause because the homeowner’s (MH) statement there were no guns in her home was omitted from the affidavit, and that the affidavit was stale. However, “there was no evidence that the omission was intentional, knowing,” or due to a reckless disregard for the truth. It could have “been a mistake or an oversight, or the information could have been considered irrelevant” given that the officer (V) was “chronicling the reasons that supported probable cause for a warrant rather than against one.” Assuming that leaving MH’s statement out “was a material omission, the facts contained in the affidavit” were sufficient to support probable cause. V “reported that defendant pointed a specifically identifiable rifle at” a person (KH) who was visiting the home. KH knew that “defendant had other guns as well. A neighbor stated that defendant often hunted.” KH stated that “defendant was at the home” and that his girlfriend lived there, and V saw defendant’s vehicle there numerous times. V described his experience of finding “hundreds of firearms during the over 200 search warrants he had conducted and how during over 95% of such searches, ammunition was found with the firearms and that those persons who possess firearms usually possess them for years. He used this knowledge as well as the totality of the circumstances in this case to reasonably conclude that the guns would likely have remained” in the house with ammunition. Affirmed.

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