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Search Warrants – Particularity Requirement – Multi-Unit Building (Duplex)

State v. Adrian J. Jackson, 2008 WI App 109
For Jackson: Craig S. Powell; Brian Kinstler

Issue/Holding: A warrant describing the building to be searched only as “a two-story duplex residence” did not satisfy the particularity requirement:

¶9    If the location to be searched is not described with sufficient particularity to inform officers which unit in a multi-unit building they are to search, the particularity required by the Fourth Amendment has not been satisfied. Hinton, 219 F.2d at 325-26. “[A] warrant which describes an entire building when cause is shown for searching only one apartment is void.” Id. at 326 ….

¶14      The Affidavit does say that Jackson was seen with guns at the common address of the duplex units, but it does not say Jackson was seen in the duplex or any specific part thereof. …

¶15      Neither the Affidavit nor the warrant identify which portion of the two-family residence is to be searched. The unit of the duplex “occupied by … Adrian Jermaine Jackson” is not, in any way, otherwise identified. The record does not indicate that Jackson’s picture was attached to the warrant, as occurred with the search warrant in MoralesSee id., 44 Wis. 2d at 105-06. The Affidavit reports no investigation by law enforcement beyond looking at a booking record for Jackson from eight months earlier that identifies as his residence the address common to the whole duplex. Not a shred of evidence presented to the magistrate hints at which unit Jackson occupied. [8] Indeed, the paucity of information about who resides in, or otherwise controls, either unit of the duplex is brought into sharp focus by the officer’s request at paragraph seven of his affidavit to search for “documents which establish the identities of persons in control of the premises.” (Emphasis added.) The officer’s use of the plural indicates the officer either knew or believed that more than one person inhabited, or had control of, the “two-story duplex residence,” but that he did not know who inhabited or controlled either unit, much less the entire building.

¶16      More is needed than was presented here to move from a general warrant for a multi-unit building to a warrant that describes with particularity the unit in a multi-unit building which is to be searched. See Garrison, 480 U.S. at 91; Morales, 44 Wis. 2d at 105; Hinton, 219 F.2d at 325-26.


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