24 F.3d 613 (4th Cir. 1994), 93-5234, United States v. Clyburn

Docket Nº:93-5234.
Citation:24 F.3d 613
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Charles E. CLYBURN, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 18, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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24 F.3d 613 (4th Cir. 1994)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Charles E. CLYBURN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 93-5234.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 18, 1994

Argued March 11, 1994.

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ARGUED: Parks Nolan Small, Federal Public Defender, Columbia, SC, for appellant. Robert Claude Jendron, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty., Columbia, SC, for appellee. ON BRIEF: J. Preston Strom, Jr., U.S. Atty., Adelaide D. Kline, Third Year Law Student, Columbia, SC, for appellee.

Before WILKINSON and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and BRINKEMA, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge WILKINSON wrote the opinion, in which Judge WILLIAMS and Judge BRINKEMA joined.


WILKINSON, Circuit Judge:

This case presents the question of whether evidence seized under a state search warrant must be suppressed in a federal prosecution because the affidavit supporting the warrant was supplemented with sworn, unrecorded oral testimony. We hold that the validity of a search warrant obtained by state officers is to be tested by the requirements of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, not by state law standards, when the admissibility of evidence in federal court is at issue. Because the Fourth Amendment does not forbid supplementation of written warrant affidavits with sworn, unrecorded oral testimony, we hold that the evidence obtained here met the requirements of admissibility, and affirm the district court's refusal to suppress it.


In April 1992, a confidential informant contacted Sergeant Anthony Dennis, a narcotics officer at the Sumter County, South Carolina Police Department. The informant--who was incarcerated in a local jail for shoplifting charges at the time--advised Dennis that defendant Charles Clyburn was selling drugs, and that she could make a drug purchase from Clyburn. Sergeant Dennis requested a bond for the informant's release so that she could aid in the investigation of Clyburn's activities. Upon release, the informant

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telephoned Clyburn from Sergeant Dennis' office, set up a meeting at Clyburn's home, and made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from Clyburn during that meeting. 1

On April 24, 1992, the day following the controlled purchase, Sergeant Dennis prepared a search warrant for Clyburn's house. Later that afternoon, Sergeant Dennis met with Sumter County Magistrate William Sanders to have the warrant approved. At the meeting, Sergeant Dennis presented his affidavit stating that

a confidential and reliable informant known to this affiant has stated to this affiant that he/she has seen a quantity of crack cocaine in the residence within the past 72 hours.

In order to establish the reliability of the informant, Magistrate Sanders took sworn testimony from Sergeant Dennis, who testified that the informant had made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine at Clyburn's house on the previous day. Sergeant Dennis indicated that he omitted this information from his written affidavit in order to protect the identity of the informant. The magistrate determined that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant, and signed the warrant authorizing a search of Clyburn's house for crack cocaine, U.S. currency, and other drug-related paraphernalia.

Using the same confidential informant, Sergeant Dennis made controlled buys of crack cocaine from Clyburn on Monday, April 27, 1992, and again on Friday, May 1, 1992. On that Friday, Sergeant Dennis executed the search warrant and discovered 231 grams of powder cocaine, 214 grams of crack cocaine, 34 grams of marijuana, $19,500 in cash, a .32 caliber revolver, and a .38 caliber revolver. Following the search, the case was turned over to federal law enforcement agents for prosecution.

In June 1992, a federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment charging Clyburn with various drug-related offenses. Clyburn filed a motion to suppress the evidence uncovered by Sergeant Dennis on the ground that it was the product of an illegal search and seizure violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Sec. 10 of the South Carolina Constitution. Specifically, Clyburn...

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