USv. Thomas: Thomas was being investigated by state authorities on allegations that he had sexually assaulting two boys. During an interview with investigators, he admitted to touching the boys, one of whom explained how Thomas had used his cell phone to contact the boys’ mother to arrange further contact with them. After he was charged in state court, the lead investigator got a warrant to search Thomas’ phone. Notably, the affidavit did not mention the use of the phone during the offense. The warrant was issued, executed, and child pornography found on Thomas’ phone. The state investigation ceased and Thomas was charged federally with the possession of child pornography. Thomas filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the affidavit in support of the search warrant was insufficient. The district court agreed, but held that the Leon good-faith exception applied because the officer knew about the link between the phone and the offense, even if it didn’t make it into the warrant affidavit.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of Thomas’ motion to suppress. The court held that under Leon courts could “look beyond the four corners of the affidavit . . . and consider as well facts know” to the officer. It rejected Thomas’ argument that the omission in this case wasn’t inadvertent (as it had been in a similar prior Fourth Circuit case), because the omission here did not “result from the kind of deliberate or bad faith effort to mislead a magistrate” that would avoid the protections of Leon.