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Search Warrants – “Technical Irregularity,” § 968.22 – Accurate Identification of Target in Warrant Application but Inaccurate Description in Warrant Itself

State v. Eric Dwayne Rogers, 2008 WI App 176, PFR filed 12/12/08
For Rogers: Mark D. Richards

Issue/Holding: Incorrect identification of automobile on face of warrant was mere technical irregularity based on “scrivener’s error”:

¶15      In this case, the executing officer had personal knowledge and the officer attached and incorporated a correct affidavit. The affidavit correctly identified Rogers’ car three times, describing the correct color, make, model, and style of the car along with the correct license plate. This information was based on the executing officer’s personal knowledge from prior encounters with Rogers and his car and from the confidential informant.

¶16      The face of the warrant, however, identified Rogers’ car incorrectly both times. First it identified a completely different car, then the correct car with two incorrect numbers in the license plate. The executing officer stated that the mistakes were a scrivener’s error from copying the information from an old search warrant.

¶17      We hold that the mistakes on the face of the warrant are a technical irregularity under Wis. Stat. § 968.22 and that the warrant meets the Fourth Amendment standard of reasonableness. When the executing officer has personal knowledge and attaches and incorporates an affidavit with the correct information, a magistrate may conclude that there is no reasonable probability that the officers will search the wrong premises. See State v. Gralinski, 2007 WI App 233, ¶¶15-16, 306 Wis. 2d 101, 743 N.W.2d 448 (courts review the magistrate’s inferences, not the police officer’s, though the magistrate may consider an officer’s special experience or knowledge). Accordingly, the officers’ seizure of cocaine evidence from Rogers’ car and their subsequent search of Rogers’ person were pursuant to a valid search warrant.

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