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Name: People v. French
Case #: A130599
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/14/2011

In evaluating the sufficiency of the affidavit for a warrant, no hard and fast test exists; rather, the affidavit must provide the magistrate with a substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause. Officer Cooper submitted an affidavit for issuance of a search warrant to the magistrate which contained assertions of three individuals, an arrestee, and two others described as confidential reliable informants. The warrant, authorizing a residence search, was issued and a search of the residence produced methamphetamine and evidence of sales. A search of appellant at a separate location, as he was getting into his vehicle, revealed methamphetamine in his backpack. The appellate court found that the affidavit was insufficient to establish probable cause because there was no support for a conclusion that any of the informants were reliable and none of them provided significant information based on first-hand observations of drug sales by appellant from his residence or presence of drugs in his residence. Arrestee information is inherently suspect and here the affidavit stated nothing to dispel the lack of credibility. The statements of the other two were lacking in sufficient detail and were conclusionary. The three sources failed to corroborate each other and there was no adequate police corroboration of any of them. Nevertheless, the search pursuant to the issued warrant was upheld under the good faith exception because a reasonable officer could have concluded that the affidavit presented a debatable question as to the existence of probable cause.