A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

By Burt Rose

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On December 2, 2009, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania decided the case of COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant v. Nolan ANTOSZYK, Appellee, 689 WDA 2008, 985 A.2d 975. The Defendant had been charged with delivery and possession of drugs and had moved to suppress the evidence obtained via a search warrant. The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal No. CP-02-CR-0009936-2005, Judge Reilly, granted the motion and the Commonwealth appealed.

The Superior Court, per Justice Fitzgerald, held that the search warrant was invalid as it was based on affidavit containing a confidential informant’s deliberate misstatements admittedly made to the affiant. The informant admitted that he lied when he said he was at defendant’s house recently and witnessed bulk quantities of marijuana for sale there. Although the affidavit accurately reflected what he told the detective, the affidavit relied only on the informant’s averments, citing no other independent source to verify the informant’s observations other than the defendant’s prior criminal record, and therefore the informant’s deliberate misstatements were the sole basis for the finding of probable cause. Accordingly, once the trial court determined that the CI was credible in testifying that he did not personally witness the drug activity at the Appellee’s home as stated in the affidavit of probable cause, the search warrant became invalid.

On February 21, 2012, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 2012 WL 716636, 3 WAP 2911, ruled that, the Court being divided 3-3, the above ruling of the Superior Court was affirmed.


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