Despite refusing to “endorse” the government’s tactics in securing a warrant for a wiretap, a federal appeals court is ruling that authorities could use the fruits of their questionable eavesdropping in prosecuting an alleged drug dealer.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court judge who last year suppressed the 50 grams of crack cocaine that was evidence in the case against a man originally suspected of plotting terrorism against the United States. The lower court said a magistrate judge erroneously issued the warrant, breaching the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which was designed to strike a balance between law enforcement and “the privacy rights of the individual.”
Warrants for wiretaps, according to the act, usually may be granted only after “a full and complete statement as to whether or not other investigative procedures have been tried and failed, or why they reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed if tried, or to be too dangerous.” Under the law, wiretapping generally is not resorted to in situations where traditional investigative techniques would suffice to expose crime.