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United States v. Tanguay

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

February 5, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JONATHAN TANGUAY, Defendant, Appellee.

APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Joseph N. Laplante, U.S. District Judge]

Martin Richey, Federal Defender Office, on brief for appellant.

Seth R. Aframe, Assistant United States Attorney, and Donald Feith, Acting United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.

Before Barron, Selya and Stahl, Circuit Judges. J.

SELYA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

This is the second go-round in our appellate review of the denial of a motion to suppress filed by defendant-appellant Jonathan Tanguay. After the district court refused to suppress vital evidence, see United States v. Tanguay (Tanguay I), 907 F.Supp.2d 165, 186 (D.N.H. 2012), the defendant went to trial. The jury convicted him on a charge of possession of child pornography. See 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B).

Following the imposition of sentence, the defendant appealed. He raised an array of issues that centered on the district court's refusal to suppress evidence that had been gathered in a police search of the defendant's home and computer. That search was made possible by a state magistrate's finding of probable cause, which led to her issuance of a search warrant. The magistrate's actions were based on the affidavit of a state trooper, then-Sgt. Carrie Nolet, that relied on information obtained from an informant, Joshua Wiggin (a private citizen). Although the district court reformed Nolet's affidavit to include some facts that it concluded had been recklessly omitted, see Tanguay I, 907 F.Supp.2d at 177-78, the court still found probable cause, see id. at 183.

In the defendant's first appeal, we rejected most of his proffered arguments. See United States v. Tanguay (Tanguay II), 787 F.3d 44, 50-51 (1st Cir. 2015). We held, however, that the district court had erred in ruling as a matter of law that a police officer affiant never has a duty to make further inquiry into the credibility of an informant before presenting a warrant application to a magistrate. See id. at 52-53. Accordingly, we withheld a final ruling on the denial of the motion to suppress, retained appellate jurisdiction, and remanded the case to the district court for further findings. See id. at 54. We took pains to delineate the scope of the remand:

On remand, the court must first determine whether the information known to Nolet gave her an obvious reason to doubt Wiggin's truthfulness and, thus, triggered a duty of further inquiry. If so, the court then must ask whether Nolet's doubts were of such a magnitude that her failure to conduct an additional inquiry evinced a reckless disregard for the truth as opposed to, say, mere negligence. . . .
If the answers to these initial questions are in the affirmative, the court must ask a third question: whether Nolet, had she made a good-faith effort to dispel those doubts, would have discovered new information that warranted inclusion in her affidavit. And if the answer to this third question is also in the affirmative, the court must consider yet a fourth question: whether the affidavit, expanded to include that new information, would continue to support a finding of probable cause.

Id.

The district court, consonant with our remand order, conducted further proceedings. On October 7, 2015, the district court issued a rescript that responded fully to the questions we had posed. See United States v. Tanguay (Tanguay III), No. 11-173, slip op. at 3-13 (D.N.H. Oct. 7, 2015). In that rescript, the court made additional findings and reiterated both its earlier determination of probable cause and its original denial of the defendant's motion to suppress. See id. at 9-13.

The defendant filed a second notice of appeal. We consolidated this second appeal with the still-pending first appeal and set a supplemental briefing schedule. The supplemental briefs having now been docketed, the consolidated appeals are ripe for consideration.

We assume the reader's familiarity with the three earlier opinions in this case. Those opinions recount the pertinent facts in great detail, see Tanguay II, 787 F.3d at 46-48; Tanguay III, slip op. at 2-3; Tanguay I, 907 F.Supp.2d at 167-76, and it would be pleonastic to rehearse them here. For present purposes, it suffices to say that the district court, on remand, answered the first three of our four questions favorably to the defendant: it ruled that the trooper, being on inquiry notice, should have looked into Wiggin's criminal record; that had she done so, she would have discovered his 1998 juvenile false report adjudication; and that the juvenile false report adjudication was material and should have been included in the trooper's affidavit. See Tanguay III, slip op. at 3-9. Withal, the district court answered the fourth and ...


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