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State ex rel. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics v. Canada

Supreme Court of Mississippi

June 4, 2015

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, EX REL. MISSISSIPPI BUREAU OF NARCOTICS
v.
BOBBY RAY CANADA AND BEVERLY TURMAN

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: QUITMAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/27/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHNNIE E. WALLS, JR.

FOR APPELLANT: PELECIA EVERETT HALL.

FOR APPELLEES: JA'NEKIA WA'LEXIAS MONIQUE BARTON, W. ELLIS PITTMAN, WILBERT L. JOHNSON.

BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON, P.J., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE AND KING, JJ., CONCUR. RANDOLPH, P.J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

Page 1004

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

COLEMAN, JUSTICE.

[¶1] Appellant Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (hereinafter " the State" ) had a search warrant signed and executed at the home of Bobby Ray Canada and Beverly Turman. Section one of the search warrant, denoting the location for the search to be executed, was completely blank.

Page 1005

The State collected, among other things, $293,720 from the home, and the State then filed a civil forfeiture action. Canada and Turman filed a summary judgment motion, arguing that the search warrant was blank and void, and therefore, the search violated their Fourth Amendment Rights. The trial judge granted the summary judgment motion. The State appealed. We hold the summary judgment motion to be well taken and affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] The State had a search warrant signed by Justice Court Judge Joe M. Brown during the night of August 15, 2013. Both parties agree that the search warrant is completely blank under section one, denoting the location for the search to be executed. The search warrant was executed on August 16, 2013, at 12:10 a.m. by Agent Andrew Stringer. Agent Stringer filled out a report containing the date, the time, and the name of the person occupying the place during the search -- Beverly Turman. The report further stated that Agent Stringer had searched the location contained in the search warrant and had found a " bulk of U.S. currency" and a revolver. Agent Stringer then filled out, but failed to sign, a second report stating that during the same search he also confiscated " misc. documents," " .357 Magnum ammo," and " storage bags." The money confiscated totaled $293,720.

[¶3] The State filed a civil forfeiture action on August 27, 2013, alleging that the money and the rifle were seized lawfully under Mississippi Code Section 41-29-153(b) and that the described property should be forfeited. The owners of the property, Canada and Turman, filed an answer and a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the search warrant was void, and therefore, the search was illegal. The State responded, arguing that the proceedings should be stayed because the affidavit and the underlying facts and circumstances sheet, listing the location of the search, were sealed by the State for other investigations, and they were needed to show the validity of the search warrant in the instant case. The State alleged that Judge Brown had seen and signed the affidavit and the underlying facts and circumstances sheet when he signed the search warrant. After the search warrant was signed -- but before the search warrant was executed -- both documents were sealed.

[¶4] The trial judge denied the motion to stay the proceedings and set a hearing for Canada's and Turman's summary judgment motion on December 11, 2013. At the hearing, the State had the affidavit and the underlying facts and circumstances sheet unsealed for the trial judge's benefit. The trial judge entered an order granting the motion for summary judgment on March 3, 2014. The State filed a motion for reconsideration, and it was denied. The State appealed.

ISSUES

[¶5] The State argues that the trial judge erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Canada and Turman. The argument is divided into two issues concerning whether the warrant was valid and enforceable and whether the good faith exception applies. We adopt the two issues, and because the State failed to provide ...


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