745 F.2d 541 (9th Cir. 1984), 83-7150, Adamson v. C.I.R.

Docket Nº:83-7150.
Citation:745 F.2d 541
Party Name:Kent A. ADAMSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:October 16, 1984
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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745 F.2d 541 (9th Cir. 1984)

Kent A. ADAMSON, Petitioner-Appellant,



No. 83-7150.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 16, 1984

Argued and Submitted Aug. 8, 1984.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 543

Peter A. Camiel, Seattle, Wash., for petitioner-appellant.

Lisa Prager, Washington, D.C., for respondent-appellee.

Appeal from United States Tax Court.

Before ANDERSON, SKOPIL, and BOOCHEVER, Circuit Judges.

BOOCHEVER, Circuit Judge:

This appeal raises the question whether the exclusionary rule bars the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from using in a civil tax proceeding evidence that concededly was illegally obtained by state police. Based exclusively upon that evidence, which we conclude was not obtained in bad faith, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (Commissioner) made a jeopardy assessment against Adamson in the amount of $262,198.40. With certain modifications, the Tax Court upheld that assessment. Because we believe the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 96 S.Ct. 3021, 49 L.Ed.2d 1046 (1976), precludes application of the exclusionary rule in this context, and that the evidence provides a rational foundation for the assessment, we affirm the Tax Court holding.


On January 29, 1980, Seattle police officers arrested Kent Adamson and three others for narcotics violations. Earlier that day, a Seattle branch of the Pacific National Bank of Washington was robbed by two Black males. One suspect was shot and captured by the Seattle police, and the other escaped. Responding to a tip from a hotel maid that she had seen a bank bag filled with money in room 423, the police officers went to the room in the Camlin Hotel in search of the remaining suspect. They had not sought a warrant to search any of the hotel rooms or to arrest anyone there.

When the officers arrived at the hotel room, a Caucasian male and female were leaving the room carrying a briefcase. The officers arrested them and then opened the briefcase. Inside the briefcase were pills and marijuana which appeared to be packaged for delivery. The officers then entered the room and saw Adamson, who is Caucasian, and a female. They immediately arrested the two and then searched the room. In a dresser drawer they found a Seattle First National Bank bag containing a large quantity of money and a plastic bag containing hashish. When asked about the money, Adamson stated that it belonged to him. The officers then sealed the room while they sought a search warrant.

A search warrant was issued on the basis of probable cause to believe a narcotics offense had been committed, and that evidence relevant to the crime could be found in room 423 at the Camlin Hotel. Armed with the warrant, the officers returned to the hotel room and seized over $56,000 in U.S. currency, a Seattle First National Bank bag, personal checks made out to Adamson, hashish, a scale containing a

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white powder residue, a passport in Adamson's name, and a travel bag and leather purse with personal items belonging to Adamson and others.

Adamson was not charged with any crime as a result of his arrest and the search.

After the warrant was executed, the Seattle police contacted agents of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the IRS to examine the seized materials. The IRS agent, relying upon the seized documents, discussions with DEA officers, Adamson's failure to file an income tax return for several years, his prior conviction for a cocaine offense, and his arrest for possession of narcotics, concluded that he did not report his taxable income for 1979.

Based on this conclusion, the Commissioner made a jeopardy assessment against Adamson in the amount of $262,198.40. After noting the government's concession of two mathematical errors and decreasing the jeopardy assessment to correct those errors, the Tax Court sustained the Commissioner's determination. The Tax Court assumed, for purposes of its analysis, that the evidence was illegally seized by the Seattle police and would have been excluded in a criminal proceeding. It nevertheless held that the evidence was admissible in a civil tax proceeding.

Based on that evidence, the Tax Court concluded that the Commissioner had sustained his burden of linking the taxpayer to the income-producing activity of drug trafficking, and that the revenue agent's deficiency computations had a rational foundation. The court found that Adamson failed to carry the burden that had shifted to him to prove that the Commissioner's determination was erroneous, or that his failure to file a return was due to reasonable cause.

On appeal, Adamson argues that the Seattle police obtained the search warrant in bad faith and because they almost immediately brought in federal agents, the evidence should have been excluded to effectuate the policies of the exclusionary rule. In addition, he argues that even if the evidence was admissible, it does not provide a rational foundation for the deficiency assessment. We do not agree.


1. Exclusionary Rule

In considering the applicability of the exclusionary rule to the evidence used in the tax proceeding we do not write on a fresh slate. In United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 96 S.Ct. 3021, 49 L.Ed.2d 1046 (1976), the Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule did not bar, in a federal civil tax proceeding, use of evidence obtained by state law enforcement officers in...

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