Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Good faith exception applies to stop based on flawed database information

U.S. v. Esquivel-Rios, 786 F.3d 1299 (5/27/15) (Kan.) (Published) - A bad good-faith decision for the defense. A Kansas trooper called into dispatch about a Colorado temporary 30-day registration tag. The dispatcher said there was "no return," explaining that "Colorado temp tags usually don't return." In fact, at the time, information on those tags was never available from the Colorado database the dispatcher searched. The database did not notify a searcher that it did not contain such information. Neither the dispatcher nor the trooper were informed in training in that regard. The trooper didn't believe the Colorado temp tag information was unavailable. He thought he had gotten such information before, even though he hadn't. Assuming there was a constitutional violation, the 10th holds good faith prevents exclusion. The 10th analogizes this case to Herring v. U.S., 555 U.S. 135 92009), where good faith saved reliance on a database that mistakenly indicated an outstanding warrant. The 10th finds it was objectively reasonable for the trooper to rely on the "no return" response from the database. The dispatcher's warning was "equivocal and anecdotal." In any event, the 10th decides it cannot exclude evidence just for "marginal" deterrence. The officer must be reckless or grossly negligent before exclusion happens. There's no misconduct to deter if the officer was not "on notice the entire database was unreliable." The 10th conceded it might have come to a different conclusion if the case involved a Colorado officer who was aware of the database's incompleteness. And there was no recurring or systemic negligence by the database caretakers. Missing some information doesn't meet that standard. If the regime "routinely lead to false arrests due to grossly mismanaged databases," then the 10th might consider exclusion.