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Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Wiretaps – Staleness & Necessity

Defendants were caught up in an investigation of the Smith brothers for drug trafficking, and defendants sought to suppress evidence obtained from wiretaps of the Smiths’ phones. In support of their argument that the wiretap application was based on stale information, defendants argue that certain historical information was too stale to support probable cause; however, this historical information demonstrated that a more recent flurry of drug activity was not an anomaly.

We affirm the district court’s denial of defendants’ motion to suppress.

We also reject defendants’ argument that the government failed to demonstrate the necessity for a wiretap. In the affidavit in support of the wiretap application, the agent set forth in exhaustive detail the investigative techniques used in the investigation up to that point and explained why those techniques had not achieved the goals of the investigation. The agent also explained why continued use of those techniques or the use of additional techniques would threaten the investigation and the safety of those involved. This showing was sufficient. The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the wiretaps were necessary.

United States v. Pernell (Lawyers Weekly No. 003-015-23, 7 pp.) (Per Curiam) No. 20-4135. Appealed from USDC at Columbia, S.C. (Mary Lewis, J.) Jeremy Thompson, Tristan Shaffer and William Watkins for appellants; Rhett DeHart and Jane Taylor for appellee. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (unpublished)

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