November 27, 2015

Tenth Circuit: No Error for Trial Court to Deny Suppression of Fruits of Search of Defendant’s Home

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Pulliam on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Keith Scott Pulliam was indicted on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an armed career criminal. He moved to suppress the fruits of a search of his home, several firearms. Pertinent to this appeal, he claimed the application for the search warrant, issued by a state court judge, did not demonstrate probable cause and the search by state officers was unreasonably executed. After the district judge denied his suppression motion he pled guilty under a plea agreement, which reserved his right to appeal from the denial. The judge accepted the plea and sentenced Pulliam to imprisonment for 75 months. Exercising his reserved right, Pulliam appealed, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

The Tenth Circuit, as well as the District Court, awarded great deference to the decision of the state court judge granting the warrant. Despite Defendant’s allegations that the informant was not trustworthy, there was sufficient evidence to the contrary for the judge to issue a warrant. Defendant also contended that the warrant was not valid on its face due to a lack of specificity as to firearms. However, because Defendant was a convicted felon, all firearms were contraband and the warrant did not need to be specific about which firearms were sought. Finally, Defendant contended that the warrant was invalid because the police officers who searched Defendant’s house failed to leave a complete copy of the warrant. The exclusion of the warrant’s attachments did not render the warrant invalid. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed.

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