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Name: United States v. Napier
Case #: 04-10249
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/07/2006

Appellant contended that the district court erred by refusing to unseal a sealed attachment to the search warrant affidavit which ultimately led to his conviction. The attachment detailed the activity of a confidential informant. Appellant argued that by keeping the attachment sealed, the government prevented him from making the preliminary showing required by Franks v. Delaware for an evidentiary hearing to test the validity of the affidavit. The appellate court rejected the argument, holding that a defendant’s interest in testing the validity of a search warrant through a Franks hearing is not absolute and must be balanced with other competing interests. The district court properly balanced the defendant’s rights with the government’s interests in determining that the sealed portions of the affidavit should remain sealed, as it ordered the government to provide the defendant a redacted version of the sealed attachment and conducted an evidentiary hearing at which the search warrant detective-affiant was questioned, and where the defendant rejected an opportunity to have an in camera hearing at which the district court would question the informant. The court concluded that the defendant failed to articulate any substantial reason why the additional sealed information he might have received would have helped him meet his initial burden required for a Franks hearing, and in turn that the defendant had no support for his motion to suppress the evidence found as a result of the search.