We recently prevailed on a motion to exclude evidence (50 lbs of Cannabis) from a case and have that case dismissed. Please enjoy reading excerpts from our motion:
Officers from Monterey Park Police Department violated Mr. Spencer’s Fourth Amendment rights when they unlawfully searched and entered the dwelling, where Mr. Spencer had been staying as an overnight guest. The police first illegally searched the premise by entering the dwelling without finding any additional facts or failing to mention facts in the police narrative. The Prosecutions justification for this invasion is Mr. Spencer did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy, and therefore lacking standing. However, this is a poor argument as all overnight guests have an explicit legitimate expectation of privacy. The Prosecution also fails to state exactly what the “exigent circumstance” was to search the dwelling where Mr. Spencer was intending to sleep. Further the No knock entry and Plain View Doctrine cannot salvage the illegal entry. Finally, this could have all been avoided if the officers would have knocked at the door and announce their reason for being there; this is in violation of the knock-notice requirements. The Court should respectfully suppress all evidence flowing from the collective of Fourth Amendment violations.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
On March 14 2020 at 10:27 AM the Monterey Park Police Department Officer Urich Was dispatched to 2404 Isabella Ave. For a report of suspicious activity. The alleged suspicious activity stems from an unknown reporting party claiming he saw a black male subject attempt to open the front door of the location and leave the residence in a car. The unknown reporting party claims the resident is vacant and did not know if the Black Male subject had been in the Backyard. Officer URICH arrived on the scene and checked the residence or any possible trespassing, vandalism, or burglary. He checked the back of the residence and opened the door; to his surprise the door was unlocked. Officer Urich did not state why he opened the door. Simply he states, “I opened the door and looked inside”. The officer to his surprise found Mr. Spencer standing in the kitchen of the AIR BNB at 2404 Isabella Ave. The officer confirmed the house was an actual AIR BNB with the owner Patrick Wong.
At the hearing I had the privilege of cross examining Officer Urich and asked what emergency existed such that he felt he could walk right into a home without a warrant. He explained that the house was located in a high crime area near the freeway and black gang members are everywhere. I asked the officer, “since someone said they saw a strange black man on a porch, you assumed that he was in a gang?”. The officer claimed I was twisting his words. After an intense, rapid fire cross examination in which I dispelled any indication of a burglary or exigent circumstances to substantiate a warrantless entry and search, I gave my closing argument
Your honor, this case before you is extremely important. Given the climate between law enforcement and citizens and the scrutiny facing the culture and subcultures of law enforcement and its training and practices, how you rule in this case will have far reaching implications. You have heard testimony that a neighbor saw a strange black man on the porch next door to a house he thought was vacant, maybe. Based on this, and this alone (there were no signs of breaking and entering, no broken glass, NOTHING) just a black man on a porch in what the officer says is a high crime area. Your Honor, if you rule against us and find that this warrantless entry and search of a home was justified, it will mean that in the future, law enforcement will be able to use, a black man on a porch as an emergency situation to justify a warrantless search. Thank you your Honor.
We then filed a media motion to be able to record the ruling. The Judge granted our motion and when the ruling was read last week, WE WON!!! You can hear the Judges reading of her opinion and ruling on our Iheart Media Podcast CANNABIS TALK 101.