United States v. Katzin, No. 12-2548 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 2009-2010, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey had a wave of pharmacy burglaries. The FBI joined the investigation. A suspect emerged: an electrician, Harry Katzin, had recently been caught burglarizing a pharmacy; his brothers also had histories of burglary and theft. Over the following months, the Katzins were repeatedly seen outside pharmacies where phone lines had been cut. After consulting with the U.S. Attorney, but without obtaining a warrant, the FBI affixed a “slap-on” GPS tracker to the exterior of Harry’s van. Within days, state troopers stopped the van on a Pennsylvania highway. Local police notified the troopers that the pharmacy closest to where the van had been parked had been burglarized. Inside the van, troopers found the Katzin brothers. From the outside they could see pill bottles and pharmacy storage bins. The police impounded the van and arrested the brothers. The district court suppressed the evidence found in the van. The Third Circuit initially affirmed. On rehearing, en banc, the Third circuit reversed and applied the good faith exception. While law enforcement officers may one day unreasonably rely on non-binding authority, under these facts, the agents’ conduct was not “sufficiently deliberate” that deterrence will be effective nor “sufficiently culpable” that deterrence outweighs the costs of suppression.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on October 22, 2013.