United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Henry Babin's Motion to Suppress
(Doc. 18) evidence derived from the search of a
"shed-like structure" he calls his home. The Court
held a hearing on the motion on July 2, 2019. (Doc. 25).
Counsel offered argument, and David Ferris, a special agent
with the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Louisiana Bureau of
Investigation, testified for the United States.
(Id.). For the reasons that follow, the
Motion (Doc. 18) is DENIED.
a child-exploitation case. Principally at issue is whether
agents exceeded the scope of a warrant authorizing the search
of a "residence" when they searched a
"shed-lite structure" on the property but not
mentioned in the warrant. The Court holds that they did not
and that, in any event, the good-faith exception controls.
Babin was indicted for knowingly possessing material
containing images of child pornography, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B). (Doc. 1). The evidence against
him includes images stored on electronic devices seized
during the execution of a search warrant. (Doc. 4 in No.
warrant authorized the search of "[t]he residence
located at 43420 Black Bayou Road, Gonzales,
Louisiana[.]" (Doc. 1 at p. 2 in No. 3:18-MJ-011). It
included images depicting the aerial and street views of the
property. (Id.). It described the
"residence" as a "one-story single-family
dwelling with white sliding [sic] and a grey
roof." (Id.). And it noted that "[a] small
travel trailer is on the property next to the carport."
(Id.). It did not mention any secondary structure
located behind the main dwelling. (Id.).
Agent Ferris and others executed the warrant. (Transcript of
7/2/19 Hearing at p. 20). They began by securing the main
dwelling. (Id.). Special Agent Ferris then walked to
his car, which he had parked near a tin-sided shed-like
structure 30 to 50 feet behind the main dwelling.
(Id. at pp. 21 & 33). The shed-like structure
appeared to be a part of the main dwelling: it did not have a
separate mailbox; it did not have an external
air-conditioning unit; it was not fenced off from the main
dwelling; it did not have its own water meter; and it relied
on the main dwelling for electricity. (Id. at p.
26). A "no trespassing" sign, however, hung from a
nearby tree. (Id. at p. 45).
walked to his car, Special Agent Ferris saw Babin emerge from
the shedlike structure. (Id. at p. 33). Special
Agent Ferris identified himself and asked Babin if the
structure was "part of the residence."
(Id.). Babin responded that it was. (Id.).
Special Agent Ferris next asked if the shed-like structure
and the main dwelling shared an address; Babin again
responded in the affirmative. (Id. at p. 34).
Special Agent Ferris entered the structure and began to
search its interior. (Id. at p. 45). At some point,
Babin told Special Agent Ferris that the structure was his
"residence." (Id.). But Special Agent Ferris
continued the search, eventually discovering electronic
devices containing evidence of child pornography.
(Id.). Babin moves to suppress that evidence. (Doc.
contends the search violated his rights under the Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 18-1 at p.
1). He contends, in particular, that the executing agents
exceeded the scope of the warrant when they entered and
searched the shed-like structure. (Id.). He notes
that the warrant did not mention the shed-like structure, and
he emphasizes that the structure is his home and thus enjoys
heightened Fourth Amendment protection." (Id.).
The United States rejoins that the warrant "implicitly
authorized" the search. (Doc. 20 at p. 5).
text of the Fourth Amendment imposes two requirements. See
Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 459 (2011). This
case concerns the second one: no warrant shall issue unless
it is based on probable cause and "particularly"
describes the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized. U.S. Const, amend. IV.
Fourth Amendment demands "practical accuracy" not
"technical precision" in a warrant's
description of the place to be searched. United States v.
Olinde, 2006 WL 1049048, at *4 (5th Cir. 2006) (per
curiam) (citation omitted). So the physical description does
'"not limit the scope of the search to those
specific areas, but instead ma[kes] the premises to be
searched more readily identifiable."'
Olinde, 2006 1049048, at *4 (quoting United
States v. Griffin, 827 F.2d 1108, 1115 (7th Cir. 1987),
cert, denied, 485 U.S. 909 (1988)).
scope of a warrant with an otherwise adequate description
extends to structures that are '"ordinarily a part
of [the] residential property[.]'" Olinde,
2006 1049048, at *4 (quoting United States v. Earls,42 F.3d 1321, 1327 (10th Cir. 1994), cert, denied,514 U.S. 1085 (1995). For example, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held that a warrant
authorizing the search of a residence at a particular address
also authorized the search of a ...