United States v. Russian, No. 15-3213 (10th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Defendant-appellant James Russian was charged with four drug- and gun-related offenses. Before trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of two cell phones seized at the time of his arrest, arguing the search warrant was invalid for lack of particularity. The district court denied the motion, concluding even if the warrant was invalid, the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied. At trial, text messages and photographs from the phones were introduced against defendant. After the jury convicted him on all counts, the court imposed a total sentence of 137 months’ imprisonment. Defendant challenged the admission of the evidence obtained from the cell phone searches, as well as the sentences imposed on several of the counts. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the convictions: the officers conducting the search acted in objectively reasonable reliance on the warrant, and even if that were not the case, any Fourth Amendment error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. As for defendant’s sentences, the Court remanded for resentencing, finding the district court erred in relying on an improperly calculated guidelines range for the sentences on the contested counts.