United States v. Morton, No. 19-10842 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule does not allow officers to search the photographs on a defendant's cellphones for evidence of drug possession, when the affidavits supporting the search warrants were based only on evidence of personal drug possession and an officer's generalized allegations about the behavior of drug traffickers—not drug users.
The Fifth Circuit held that the officers' affidavits do not provide probable cause to search the photographs stored on the defendant’s cellphones. Furthermore, the good faith exception does not apply because the officers' reliance on the defective warrants was objectively unreasonable. While respecting the "great deference" that the presiding judge is owed, the court further held that he did not have a substantial basis for his probable cause determination with regard to the photographs. Therefore, the digital images found in defendant's cellphones are inadmissible and the court vacated his conviction, remanding for further proceedings.