Appeals court: Smoked meth is enough for search
Kasota man argues against warrant
Even though an informant had helped smoke all of the methamphetamine he saw at the home of a man being investigated for drug possession, there was still enough probable cause to justify a search by police, according to a recent ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Gerald John Seitz, 49, was the man being investigated in August 2007. He has been serving a prison sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Moose Lake since he was convicted of a felony first-degree drug possession charge in January.
Seitz was arrested on Aug. 27, 2007, after a Le Sueur County Sheriff’s deputy executed a search warrant at his home in Kasota. An informant had told the deputy that he had smoked methamphetamine with Seitz in a shed behind Seitz’s residence.
Nearly two ounces of methamphetamine, $7,000 in cash and drug paraphernalia were found during the search.
In his application for the search warrant, the deputy also reported he had investigated Seitz before for drugs and that an inmate in the Rice County Jail had told authorities she had used methamphetamine with Seitz.
The deputy also vouched for the informant, saying the informant had provided reliable information to him and other drug investigators in the region in the past.
Seitz’s appeal claimed the deputy omitted key information from his search warrant request. That evidence was a conversation the same informant had with another drug investigator just prior to the search. The informant told the investigator he attempted to buy a quarter ounce of methamphetamine from Seitz, but Seitz said he didn’t have anything to sell.
“Seitz moved to suppress the evidence seized during the search, arguing that (the deputy) knowingly omitted information from his supporting affidavit and that the judge would not have found probable cause if the information had been included,” the appeals court ruling said.
Seitz also pointed out that the deputy hadn’t revealed that the informant had prior convictions and pending criminal charges.
The appeals court ruling said criminal activity does not prevent a judge or jury from finding that an informant is credible. It also found that probable cause wasn’t lacking because the informant had helped consume the only drugs he had seen on Seitz’s property.
“Even small amounts of a controlled substance can establish a fair probability that evidence of a crime or contraband will be found in a particular place,” the ruling said.
By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press
Published December 26, 2009 10:09 pm