Bradford Ladner wins search warrant appeal in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. We successfully defended the trial court’s decision to grant a motion to suppress evidence that was illegally seized when a search warrant was improperly executed.
In Trenteon King, the trial court granted King’s motion to suppress evidence discovered and seized when police executed a search warrant at King’s house. The police were investigating a murder and after police interviewed witnesses, their investigation focused on King. Police got two search warrants: one of which was for King’s home. The warrant was approved by a Mobile County District Judge. The warrants were directed to the ” Sheriff of Mobile County” but were executed by Mobile City Police officers without any sheriff deputies present. When the search warrant was served, police discovered a gun connected to the shooting. As a result, King faced murder charges.
King’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence found during the search, arguing that under Alabama law, the search was illegal because the warrant was issued to “the Sheriff of Mobile County” but was executed by the Mobile Police Department. In a prior appellate case handled by Bradford Ladner LLP., Anderson v. State, 212 So. 3d 252 (Ala. Civ. App. 2016), a search warrant was declared unlawful under similar circumstances.
The trial court judge agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The State of Alabama appealed the trial court’s ruling. Bradford Ladner was retained to defend King in the appeal.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals held that based on current Alabama law and the prior decision of the court of appeals in Anderson, that the trial court judge was correct in granting King’s motion to suppress. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that it was not an issue regarding the validity of the warrant itself, but it was an issue of whether the execution of the search warrant was legal or illegal. The State of Alabama requested review by the Alabama Supreme Court, but they declined to review the case.
Statutes authorizing searches are strictly construed against the prosecution in favor of the liberty of the citizen.” Kelley v. State, 55 Ala. App. 402, 403, 316 So. 2d 233, 234 (Ala. Crim. App. 1975). “The appellate courts, including this one, are duty-bound to preserve the rule of law in the issuance of search warrants. Suppression of evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant issued contrary to the rule of law is necessary to preserve the rule of law itself.” Ex parte Turner, 792 So. 2d 1141, 1151 (Ala. 2000).
This case reaffirms the principle that laws regarding the issuance and execution of a search warrant are strictly reviewed and construed.