Warrant in Misconduct Case Lacked Cause

     (CN) – A warrant issued by an Illinois judge granting a search of the home and office of a lawyer accused of snorting cocaine and accepting stolen laptops from a client lacked probable cause, the 7th Circuit ruled. But, the court ruled, the warrant was solid enough to protect officers against the lawyer’s Fourth Amendment unreasonable search claims.

     A two-judge appeals panel ruled that a warrant approving the search of Dodie Junkert’s home and office was deficient because it was based on scant information provided by an informant.
     But the panel further ruled that the warrant was sufficient enough to guard the officer heading the investigation against Junkert’s unreasonable search claims.
     Although the informant had never seen Junkert using cocaine or accepting stolen laptops in exchange for legal services, the allegations were enough to lead to a warrant being issued.
     During the search of her home, Junkert willingly handed over two stolen laptops and a mirror, straws and tin foil with cocaine on it, the circuit said.
     Junkert filed Fourth Amendment violation claims against the lead investigator, Roger Massey, and a jury granted him immunity in district court despite finding that his warrant lacked probable cause.
     “We have found holes in the affidavit which raise doubts about whether it provided the judge with probable cause to issue the search warrant. But the affidavit does contain several indicia of probable cause, and it is not so deficient that any reasonably well-trained officer would have known that probable cause was lacking,” Judge John Tinder wrote for the panel.
     But the panel warned that judicial authority when issuing a warrant should be cautious “to make sure that any warrant issued is carefully drawn, so as not to allow the police to blithely rummage through privileged information unrelated to the subject of the search.”

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