Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bush: Applying Independent Source Doctrine

In U.S. v. Bush, No. 12-12624 (Aug. 27, 2013), the Court affirmed cocaine trafficking convictions, rejecting challenges to the denial of a motion to suppress, and to the giving of an Allen charge. Bush claimed that the search warrant to search his residence was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, because the decision to obtain a warrant was based on evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful dog sniff at the residence, and from information gleaned from a GPS device placed on his vehicle. The Court noted that under the “independent source doctrine,” a warrant can still be valid if supported by sufficient other information, and if the officer would have sought the warrant even without the preceding illegal search. Here, both conditions were satisfied. The police obtained information from a variety of valid sources, including surveillance of the home, and a “trash pull.” Further, the police decision to seek a warrant was not based on the illegally obtained information. Turning to the Allen charge, the Court recognized that this charge was given even though the jury had not stated it was “deadlocked,”at 6:21pm, after four hours of deliberation, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts 47 minutes later. The Court noted that “in hindsight, it might have been better for the district court to let the jury go home and return the next day.” But the Court found that it had previously upheld Allen charges given in “more extreme” circumstances, and therefore could not find that the jury here was “coerced.”