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September 5, 1989

RAYFUL EDMOND, III, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY


 Those defendants with standing to do so have moved to suppress the fruits of three searches: (1) an April 16, 1989, search of a house located at 407 M Street, N.E.; (2) a February 5, 1988, search of the same house; and (3) a December 24, 1987, search of an apartment occupied by the defendant Edmond. The Court will address the searches in turn.

 1. 407 M Street -- April 16, 1989

 The defendants challenge the warrant authorizing this search, as well as the "scope and intensity" of the search's execution. As to the former, they contend that the warrant's relatively unspecific description of the objects to be seized converted it into a "general warrant," and that anything taken under its authority must be suppressed. As to the latter, they contend that the searching officers "rummaged at will" through every document in the house, without regard for the proscriptions of the warrant or the plain view doctrine, and that they took large numbers of documents that were nowhere described in the warrant or supporting affidavits. They argue that the blunderbuss nature of the search offends the fourth amendment and requires suppression.

 The Court disagrees on both points. Concededly, it can be argued that the warrant, signed by the Magistrate on April 14, contains an unacceptably "general" description of the items to be seized, and that this generality is not saved by an express incorporation of the attached affidavit. Nevertheless, there is no indication that this error -- to the extent it is error -- is in any way attributable to the officers who sought the warrant, or that it was intentionally perpetuated by the officers who executed it. To the contrary, the officers, in obtaining and carrying out the warrant, acted only in strictest compliance with the Fourth Amendment's commands. Under these circumstances -- even assuming that the warrant was defective in form -- suppression is an inappropriately drastic remedy. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677, 104 S. Ct. 3405 (1984). *fn1" Cf., United States v. Anderson, 271 U.S. App. D.C. 129, 851 F.2d 384, 388-89 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (no suppression where warrant failed to specify any items to be seized).

 2. 407 M Street -- February 5, 1988

 The defendants challenge the warrant authorizing this search on the same grounds as the warrant discussed above: that it is unacceptably general, and that it is not saved by the incorporation of a more specific affidavit. Again, however, the remedy of suppression is foreclosed under these circumstances by Leon ; there is no indication -- even assuming a defective warrant -- that the officers acted with anything other than good faith.

 The defendants also challenge the seizure of various materials, including a gun, which they contend were not defined in the search warrant. The warrant provided the officers with authority to seize "cocaine or any other contraband, currency, proof of residence, and any other materials relating to the distribution of narcotics." The defendants argue that the government has failed to carry its burden under the plain view doctrine of defending the seizure of items not included within this definition.

 Although the defendants' memorandum did not particularly describe which of the seized materials the defendants are most concerned with, the Court has difficulty seeing how any of the materials fall outside the scope of the warrant. The "Return" section of the warrant notes that the following were seized: "258 1/2 grms. of cocaine, $ 27,704.00, marijuana, personal papers,.9 mm and ammo." It appears to the Court that each of these items corresponds to a category of seizable material specified in the warrant. The defendants devote most of their energy to arguing that seizure of the gun was impermissible under the plain view doctrine. Yet, the gun can obviously be classified as "material[] relating to the distribution of narcotics," and the seizing officer testified that he regarded it as such. The other materials also clearly fall within the scope of the warrant, and there is no basis for suppressing them. Under these circumstances, the plain view doctrine does not come into play. Properly seen, the defendants' challenge reduces to an attack upon the generality of the warrant, rather than upon its execution. Yet, while the warrant might have been more tightly drafted, any failure in this regard cannot be attributed to the executing officers so as to justify suppression. *fn2"

 3. Apartment 830, Buchanan House -- December 24, 1987

 On December 24, 1987, officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration searched apartment 830 at the Buchanan House, in Arlington, Virginia. They acted under a warrant authorizing the seizure of "cocaine, drug cutting paraphernalia, packaging equipment, cash proceeds of drug sales, address books and telephone books containing names and addresses of coconspirators, fingerprints, firearms, photographs of coconspirators, firearms, 'owe sheets', bankbooks and checkbooks (reflecting [illegible] from cocaine distribution), airline tickets, keys to vehicles used by a [illegible]." In fact, the searching officers seized only a photograph taken of the defendant Edmond with Alta Rae Zanville. The defendants nevertheless contend that the government intends to introduce testimony from the officers as to what they observed in the apartment. According to the defendants, what the officers observed -- clothes, numerous documents, etc. -- does not fall within the scope of the warrant, and the "search" of those nonwarrant items (i.e., the officers' observation and testimony at trial) cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine.

 A review of the warrant shows that it is of very broad scope; the items specified could have been located anywhere in the apartment, and could very well have been hidden. Thus, the officers' thorough search of the apartment -- in closets, under beds, through drawers -- was perfectly justified in light of the breadth of the warrant and the nature of the items specified. It is fair to say that, under the warrant, the officers had a right to be everywhere in the apartment. In exercising this right, it appears that the officers observed items that were not specifically described in the warrant, such as clothes. The ...

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