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Name: United States v. Nora
Case #: 12-50485
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/28/2014
Summary

Where police ordered defendant out of his home and arrested him without a warrant in the absence of exigent circumstances, evidence found during search incident to the arrest and defendant’s post-arrest statements should have been suppressed. Police officers approached Nora and two men on a sidewalk in Central Los Angeles. Nora moved to the porch of his house. While the officers attempted to engage in casual conversation with the men, Nora pushed past his friend and officers saw a gun in his hand as he turned around. He did follow the officers’ command to stop and instead shut himself in his house. After a police standoff, Nora exited the home and a pat-down search revealed marijuana and $1000 in cash. Nora made some incriminating statements. Officers then obtained a warrant, searched the house, and found drugs, guns, and cash. Nora entered a plea to possession of cocaine for distribution following the denial of his suppression motion. On appeal, he challenged the denial of the motion. Held: Reversed. The Fourth Amendment forbids arresting a suspect inside his home unless police have an arrest warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement applies. (Payton v. New York (1980) 445 U.S. 573.) Nora was arrested “inside” his home for purposes of the Payton rule because police surrounded his home and forced him out at gunpoint. Even though there was probable cause to arrest him for the misdemeanor offense of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place (Cal. Pen. Code, § 25850, subd. (a)), Nora did not present the kind of immediate threat to the safety of officers or others to justify a disregard of the arrest warrant requirement. The court also concluded that, when a defendant is forced out of his or her home by police coercion and arrested in violation of Payton, evidence found in a subsequent pat-down search must be suppressed. Nora’s post-arrest statements should also have been suppressed because they were likely induced by the unlawful search of his person, which had yielded drugs and cash. (United States v. Shetler (9th Cir. 2011) 665 F.3d 1150.)

Evidence found during subsequent search of defendant’s home should also have been suppressed because the search warrant was invalid. A search warrant remains valid if, after excising tainted evidence, the affidavit’s remaining untainted evidence would provide a neutral magistrate with probable cause to issue a warrant. After excising the cash and marijuana found on Nora’s person and his post-arrest statements, the remaining untainted evidence did not provide probable cause to search Nora’s home for marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, or evidence of gang membership. The portion of the warrant that authorized the seizure of firearms, assault rifles, handguns, shotguns, and ammunition was also invalid. While the officers’ firsthand observations of Nora with one gun is his hand provided probable cause to search Nora’s home for that specific handgun, these observations did not give them reasonable grounds to believe that additional firearms would be in the house. The government did not show that Nora’s prior firearm convictions made him more likely to own multiple firearms and there were no facts tying Nora to other firearms.