In People v. Scully (Ct. App. 5/6/2010), a unanimous Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's conviction, rejecting his contention that the motion court erred in denying a hearing on his suppression motion.
The facts were simple: Utica Police were executing a drug-related search warrant at a residence. The warrant was for the second floor of the premises as well as two John Does and "any other person who may be found to have such property [drugs, paraphernalia, and guns] in his
possession or under his control at the time of the execution of said
warrant." The police went to the first floor entrance where they heard the defendant coming down the stairs. He asked what they wanted and the plainclothes police replied, "one," meaning a $20 rock of crack-cocaine. The defendant opened the door and he was detained and searched. The police found a gun, ammunition, and money.
The defendant's motion papers alleged only that the search warrant was issued without probable cause. However, his papers did not demonstrate how or why there was a lack of probable cause. As such, the allegations were pure legal conclusions and insufficient to entitle the defendant to a hearing.
This case serves as an important reminder to defense counsel to supplement their omnibus motion papers with specific facts that, if found to be true at a hearing and when applied to the law, yield the legal remedy they seek. In other words, every legal conclusion must be supported by facts.
Another issue in the case was standing. After the police arrested the defendant, they went upstairs and searched the second floor residence. Various drugs and drug paraphernalia were found there. The defendant did not allege sufficient facts to show that he had standing to challenge the search. Again, he alleged only that the warrant lacked probable cause. (LC)