Eastern District of Missouri Finds Search Warrant for Csli to Be Proper

In this conspiracy to distribute drugs and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and murder prosecution, a Magistrate Judge conducted a hearing on a motion to suppress and issued a report and recommendation denying the motion to suppress.

Search warrants were obtained for a telephone number that was believed to be connected to the murder. Law enforcement learned the phone number for the victim and got his records, including the victim’s cell-site location information.

Based on finding one defendant’s cell phone number in these records with a call, along with other information, the police sought, and received a search warrant for cell site location information for that phone.

The Magistrate, in response to the Defendant’s Motion to Suppress, found the warrant to be based on probable cause with sufficient particularity based on the fact that there was a call of some length between the victim and what turned out to be the defendant’s number on the morning of the murder.

The Court also rejected the defense argument that a State court judge could not sign a warrant for an out of State telephone mobile number. The Court also rejected the contention that law enforcement could not request maps of a cell provider’s towers, finding that the Defendant had no expectation of privacy in that information.

Alternatively, assuming the warrant was defective, the Magistrate found that the officers acted in good faith reliance on the warrant.

The case is United States v. Johnson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65896, E.D. MO (March 11, 2019).

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