Defective search & seizure warrants typically keep cases from going to trial

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2010:

Cases involving defective warrants, or none, are usually
dismissed before actually going to trial. The most commonly cited
error is that the investigators overstep legal limits in seeking
probable cause to obtain warrants.
For example, Justice Robin Clute of Ravalli County, Montana
on June 8, 2010 dismissed three counts of cruelty filed in 2008
against Paula Fisher, of Victor, Montana, after Ravalli County
sheriff’s deputies impounded 10 horses, 17 goats, and two cats from
her property. All but three of the horses were later returned to
Fisher, said Perry Backus of the Ravalli Republic. In the Fisher
case, the deputies obtained a search warrant, but only after
entering her property to inspect the animals more closely, having
seen them first from a road. The deputies passed a “No trespassing”

In two recent cases the search warrants were held to have
been improperly obtained because the evidence used to obtain them was
allegedly not fully disclosed to the judges who signed the warrants.
In the first case, New Mexico 3rd Judicial District Judge
Lisa Schultz on November 10, 2009 dismissed with prejudice 50
combined counts of dogfighting, cruelty, and conspiracy brought
against twin brothers Daron and Duryea Scott of El Paso, Texas. The
Scotts were accused in August 2007 of breeding pit bull terriers for
fighting in Chapparal, New Mexico. “The grounds for the dismissal
were based on a state Court of Appeals decision in September 2009,
upholding a decision by a District Court judge to suppress all
evidence in the case,” wrote Las Cruces Sun-News reporter Diana M.
Alba. “3rd Judicial District Judge Douglas Driggers ruled that the
warrant was improperly obtained. Dona Ana County sheriff’s
investigator Robyn Gojkovich in August 2007 telephonically secured a
search warrant for the seizure of pit bulls from two Chaparral
properties rented by the Scotts. Questions arose about whether she
entirely read the support documentation for the warrant to the judge,
a requirement, and whether the telephonic approval was valid.
Prosecutors appealed Driggers’ decision, but it was reaffirmed by the
state appeals court.” Judge Schultz also ordered that 57 pit bulls
seized from the Scotts should be returned, but only 17 remained in
custody, according to a lawsuit the Scotts filed in August 2009
against Dona Ana County.
In Yankton, South Dakota, Turner County Judge Tami Bern on
May 3, 2010 refused to allow the Second Chance Rescue Center, of
Sioux Falls, to keep 172 dogs who were seized on September 2, 2009
from hunting dog breeder Dan Christensen, of Hurley. The seizure
was conducted in partnership with the Humane Society of the U.S.
The Second Chance Rescue Center at the time held the Sioux
Falls animal control contract, but relinquished it to the Sioux
Falls Humane Society in December 2009. Turner County animal control
officer Rosie Quinn worked for the Sioux Falls Humane Society for
eight years, but left the humane society to found the Second Chance
Rescue Center in March 2006. Quinn resigned from the rescue center
in January 2010 amid allegations that the shelter was infected with
parvovirus–the same disease that reportedly occasioned the
impoundment of Christensen’s dogs, five days after Quinn found that
they “appeared to be okay” during an August 27, 2009 inspection.
Quinn did not mention that finding when she requested the
seizure warrants, Judge Bern found. That meant that the warrants
were obtained on incomplete and misleading information, Judge Bern
ruled on February 1, 2010. Reported John Hult of the Sioux Falls
Argus Leader, “Quinn testified that ‘she was specifically directed
not to disclose that information’ to the court, the judge’s ruling
states. The ruling does not say who might have directed Quinn not to
disclose the information. Instead, Quinn pointed to observations
from an unrelated April visit to Christensen’s property to justify
the seizure, according to the ruling.”

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