The United States Law Week

Search Warrants Supported Mostly By Confidential Informant OK’d

Nov. 18, 2019, 8:11 PM

Search warrants that turned up evidence used to convict a man of drug trafficking charges were proper despite being based mostly on evidence provided by a confidential informant, the Sixth Circuit said.

Richard Crawford was found guilty of distribution and possession charges. He challenged the search warrants for his home that led to his arrest, arguing that law enforcement failed to properly verify the credibility of the informant who tipped them off.

Crawford’s focus on trustworthiness and credibility of informants was right, but “he is wrong in his conclusion,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held.

“Here, the informant’s reliability was confirmed both by law enforcement agencies and through the affiant officer’s own research,” Circuit Judge Chad A. Readler wrote for the court. “Adding in the fact that the key information disclosed by the informant proved to be credible, there were many reasons to deem the informant reliable, thereby justifying the warrants.”

The confidential informant, Jerry Heard, had informed the local police department that Crawford was dealing cocaine. Among other steps, the officers had Heard identify Crawford from a driver’s license photo and provide Crawford’s phone number to establish his credibility as an informant.

Heard went on to provide more information about Crawford, including what car he drove and when and where he would sell drugs.

Crawford was ultimately sentenced to 216 months in prison, plus six years of supervised release.

Circuit Judges Alice M. Batchelder and Bernice B. Donald joined in the opinion.

Crawford was represented by Burdon & Merlitti in Akron, Ohio.

The case is United States v. Crawford, 6th Cir., No. 18-6239, 11/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcAfee@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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