United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO
SUPPRESS RE: DKT. NO. 90 & 93
J. DAVILA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Jonathan Chang and Defendant
Grace Chang's Motion to Suppress. Dkt. Nos. 90, 93. The
Court has reviewed the relevant documents and pertinent law,
and heard oral arguments. The Court orders Category Ten from
Attachment B of the search warrant (“Category
Ten”) be severed and any evidence collected solely
under Category 10 to be suppressed, but otherwise denies the
motion. Dkt No. 90-1 at 7.
the Fourth Amendment search warrants must be specific.
Specificity involves two aspects: particularity and breadth.
United States v. Towne, 997 F.2d 537, 544 (9th Cir.
1993) (quoting In re Grand Jury Subpoenas Dated December
10, 1987, 926 F.2d 847, 856-57 (9th Cir. 1991).
Particularity requires the warrant to clearly state what is
being sought. Id. Breadth requires the scope of the
warrant to be limited by the probable cause on which the
warrant is based. Id.
Category Ten is overbroad and violates the Fourth Amendment.
Dkt No. 90-1 at 7. Category Ten would allow the police to
seize “[a]ll records, documents, and materials,
including correspondence, related to any of the following
individuals: Jonathan CHANG and Weilin CHANG.”
Id. Defendants argue that this language would allow
the seizure of every item in their home. Dkt. No. 93 at
13-14. The Government cites United States v.
McLaughlin, 851 F.2d 283, 286 (9th Cir. 1988), in its
opposition to argue that the language of Category Ten cannot
be reasonably interpreted to extend to every record or
document in Defendants' home. Dkt. No. 97 at 13. In
McLaughlin, a portion of the warrant describing
evidence to be seized was poorly drafted, but the Ninth
Circuit found that it should have been understood in the
broader context of the entire warrant, which would provide
sufficient particularity. Id. The Government argues
that here Category Ten should be interpreted in relation to
Attachment B as a whole. Dkt. No. 93 at 13. However, the
facts in this case are distinguishable from
McLaughlin. This case is more similar to United
States v. Spilotro, 800 F.2d 959, 964-65 (9th Cir.
1986), where the court rejected a warrant for lack of
particularity because the government had sufficient
information to narrow the description of items but did not do
so. Likewise here, the Government could have narrowed
Category Ten to evidence related to the alleged financial
fraud. The Court also finds that Category Ten exceeds the
probable cause established by the affidavit. See United
States v. SDI Future Health, Inc., 568 F.3d 684, 705
(9th Cir. 2009) (finding several categories from the search
warrant to be overbroad). “[P]robable cause does not
exist to seize all items of those particular types”
listed in Category Ten. Id. at 703 (quotation and
Category Ten is overbroad, the Government might still find
relief under the good faith exception. A good faith exception
to the exclusionary rule may exist when officers rely on the
search warrant in an “objectively reasonable
manner.” Id. at 706. The good faith exception
may apply even where, as here, a warrant is, at least in
part, defective and it does not incorporate the supporting
affidavit. Id. For the exception to apply, the
Government must show that the officers involved in the search
actually relied on the unincorporated affidavit. Id.
here the Government has not made this showing. There is
nothing in the record to indicate that the affidavit was
in-hand during the search and there is nothing showing that
the agents relied on the affidavit when determining which
items were properly within the search warrant. The good faith
exception does not apply.
concluded that Category Ten is overbroad and that no
exception rescues it from suppression, the Court now
considers the appropriate remedy. The doctrine of severance
allows a court to strike those portions of that warrant that
are invalid, while preserving the portions that satisfy the
Fourth Amendment. United States v. Gomez-Soto, 723
F.2d 649, 654 (9th Cir. 1984). Only those articles seized
pursuant to the invalid portions need to be suppressed.
Id. However, severance or partial suppression is not
allowed “when the valid portion of the warrant is a
relatively insignificant part of an otherwise invalid
search.” United States v. Kow, 58 F.3d, 428
(9th Cir. 1995).
the violative category is one of twenty-two separate
categories and can be partially suppressed. This is a case in
which the invalid categories are not the “lion's
share” of the search warrant. SDI Future
Health, 568 F.3d at 707. Thus, partial suppression is
ORDER AND CONCLUSION
Ten is severed and any evidence seized under Category Ten,
but no other ...