In United States v. Williams, No. 16-16444 (Sept. 20, 2017) (Tjoflat, Hull, William Pryor) (per curiam), the Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress.
First, the Court concluded that the search of an outbuilding adjacent to the defendant’s residence was lawful, because the search was a reasonable entry pursuant to an arrest warrant for the defendant. The totality of the circumstances supported the agents’ belief that the defendant lived on the property, either in the main residence or in the outbuilding (both were possible living spaces), and that he was present in one of those two buildings at the time the warrant was executed (since his car was there and it was early in the morning).
Second, the Court alternatively concluded that the search of the outbuilding, while the defendant was being arrested in the main residence, was a valid protective sweep. The outbuilding was a separate structure 20 feet away, there was noise indicating that drug distribution activities might be occurring on the property, and there were three cars parked in the driveway, suggesting that more people might be on the premises and pose a danger.
Finally, the Court, applying plain error, rejected the defendant’s argument that an arrest warrant executed at approximately 6am was invalid. The agent testified that the warrant was not executed before 6am, the beginning of daytime hours under Rule 41. And, in any event, even if the warrant was executed a few minutes before 6am, there was no evidence that the agents did do so deliberately or that his arrest would not have otherwise occurred. Thus, any technical non-compliance with Rule 41 would not require suppression.