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OfflinemotamanM
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Judge: Evidence obtained at drug bust invalid
    #1557937 - 05/18/03 04:43 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

http://www.thereporteronline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=8041718&BRD=2275&PAG=461&dept_id=466404&rfi=6

Judge: Evidence obtained at drug bust invalid




BETH COHEN , Staff Writer 05/17/2003




NORRISTOWN ? A Montgomery County judge has ruled that evidence seized during a drug bust and statements allegedly given to police cannot be used at trial because the search warrant police obtained was unsigned and deemed invalid.


?The rules of criminal procedure required a signature?? said Sean Cullen? captain of Montgomery County District Attorney?s Narcotics Unit. ?In this case? there were multiple search warrants and it is our position that District Justice (John) Murray sealed and signed them properly.?

At issue is a June 27? 2002? search warrant that Montgomery County Detectives and the Pennsylvania State Police served on the home of Michael DeFrancesco? 49? of the 1500 block of Skippack Pike in Whitpain? which had been filled out and contained the seal of District Justice Murray? according to court records.

The only thing missing was Murray?s signed initials within the authorization seal? said Fiore Vagnozzi? who represents DeFrancesco.

Murray did? however? sign three other search warrants issued at the same time for residences in Hatfield Township and Norristown? and for DeFrancesco?s 1995 Jeep Cherokee? according to court records.

The locations were identified by police as the sources of a methamphetamine trafficking operation.

A confidential informant told police that DeFrancesco?s Whitpain home was where he ?cooked the methamphetamine? to produce crystal and P2P meth? an affidavit of probable cause stated.

Because of the unsigned Whitpain warrant? Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Richard J. Hodgson on May 15 ruled all items seized from the DeFrancesco?s home and all statements he allegedly made to police be suppressed.

Vagnozzi said he discovered the oversight by reading through the court files.

?It?s why you have to study the file?? he said. ?To me this means the case is over because the case law states that an unsigned warrant is not a warrant.?

Cullen said Friday he was disappointed with the ruling and understands that Hodgson was bound by ?Draconian? case law.

The District Attorney?s Office will appeal the case law to the state Superior Court and ultimately to the state Supreme Court if necessary? he said.

?We know that the judge did everything possible to say everything was OK?? Cullen said. ?He was restrained by a law that he was forced to follow.?

In prior state Supreme Court cases? attorneys did not require the district justices to testify about whether he or she approved a search warrant.

But Cullen said his case is different because Murray was asked to testify during a May 7 suppression hearing before Hodgson and Murray admitted under oath that he had approved the search warrant but failed as ?an oversight? to sign it.

?When he put his seal on the line? our contention is that he approved it?? Cullen said.

While the case is being appealed? DeFrancesco remains on 10 percent of $50?000 bail. Narcotics violation charges are still pending against him.





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Offlinedaba
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Re: Judge: Evidence obtained at drug bust invalid [Re: motaman]
    #1558396 - 05/18/03 09:10 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Wow, I used to LIVE in Montgomery county!


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OfflineDreamer987
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Re: Judge: Evidence obtained at drug bust invalid [Re: motaman]
    #1558970 - 05/19/03 12:31 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Why can't they ever fuck up on technicallitys for Weed busts, no its always gotta be the fucking meth doctors that get off scot free.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Judge: Evidence obtained at drug bust invalid [Re: Dreamer987]
    #1559485 - 05/19/03 08:25 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

Why can't they ever fuck up on technicallitys for Weed busts, no its always gotta be the fucking meth doctors that get off scot free.




Because then they wouldn't have an excuse to use hundreds of millions of our tax money to build nice new prisons to hold all the cannabis smokers.


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