Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Phillips: Granting 2255 relief where false statement by police officer tainted conviction

In Phillips v. U.S., No. 14-11960 (Feb. 23, 2017), the Court, reversing the denial of § 2255 relief, agreed with the defendant (and the government’s concession) that a prior conviction for drug trafficking was tainted by the false testimony at trial of a West Palm Beach police officer, who was also under criminal investigation for conduct that occurred at the time of his investigation of the defendant. The Court concluded that the officer’s false testimony was “material” to the government’s case, and thus there was “grave doubt” about whether it influenced the jury’s verdict. The Court, however, affirmed the district court’s ruling on two other counts that despite the warrant application’s reliance on false statements by the police officer, there was other information in the warrant that supported probable cause. There was sufficient evidence, apart from the false testimony, to justify the search warrant that led police to the discovery of ammunition in Phillips’ residence.