State v. Sullivan, 20319

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation267 S.C. 610,230 S.E.2d 621
Docket NumberNo. 20319,20319
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. John L. SULLIVAN, III, Appellant.
Decision Date02 December 1976

Williams & Williams, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Atty. Gen. Randolph R. Mahan, Columbia, for respondent.

NESS, Justice:

Appellant was convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and sentenced to five years imprisonment. At the outset the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the affidavit in support of the search warrant. We find no error and affirm.

The pertinent part of the affidavit supporting the search warrant contains the following language:

'Manager of apartments Anne Dyke saw a large quantity of plant material, plastic bags and small scales in this apartment and detected a strong odor peculiar to her.

'Anne Dyke is believable because she is known to deponent to be a business woman and a truthful person.'

A subsequent search of appellant's premises disclosed forty-six pounds of marijuana and other articles described in the affidavit.

The undisputed facts establish that the contraband was discovered in appellant's apartment by the manager and the maintenance man who entered the apartment to turn on the utilities. The manager informed the owner of the complex who called the sheriff. Officers Hood, Whaley and Moultrie were sent to investigate. Officers Hood and Whaley interviewed the owner of the apartments while Officer Moultrie questioned the manager, Anne Dyke. After conferring, Officer Moultrie stayed to observe the apartment while Officers Hood and Whaley sought a search warrant.

Appellant's assertion of insufficiency of the affidavit can be capsuled into three specifics: (1) utilization of multiple hearsay; (2) failure to establish the credibility of the informer; (3) the illegitimacy of the detached determination of probable cause.

It is uncontroverted that an affidavit can show probable cause even when based on hearsay statements under the rule enunciated in Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 114, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 1514, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), as follows:

'Although an affidavit may be based on hearsay information and need not reflect the direct personal observations of the affiant, Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 80 S.Ct. 725, 4 L.Ed.2d 697, the magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying circumstances from which the informant concluded that the narcotics were where he claimed they were, and some of the underlying circumstances from which the officer concluded that the informant . . . was 'credible' or his information 'reliable." Also see United States v. Harris, 403 U.S. 573, 91 S.Ct. 2075, 29 L.Ed.2d 723 (1971); State v. Sachs, 264 S.C. 541, 216 S.E.2d 501 (1975).

Officer Hood related information to the magistrate which was obtained through a joint investigation. The propriety of an affiant attesting to information supplied him by a fellow officer has been judicially endorsed. See United States v. Welebir, 498 F.2d 346 (4th Cir. 1974), and cases cited therein.

It is not unusual for an affidavit of a law enforcement officer to contain hearsay information from another, which, in turn, is based on other information gathered by that person. Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 416, 89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637 (1969) discussing Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307, 79 S.Ct. 329, 3 L.Ed.2d 327 (1959). Hence, when a magistrate receives an affidavit which contains hearsay upon hearsay, he need not categorically reject this double hearsay information. Rather, he is called upon to evaluate this information as well as all other information in the affidavit in order to determine whether it can be reasonably inferred 'that the informant had gained his information in a reliable way.' Spinelli, supra, 393 U.S. at 417, 89 S.Ct. at 589. The magistrate must canvass the affidavit and the information as a whole and measure it against Aguilar standards in order to assess its probative value. The Aguilar requirements must be weighed with the added analysis of Spinelli. State v. Williams, 262 S.C. 186, 203 S.E.2d 436 (1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 835, 95 S.Ct. 61, 42 L.Ed.2d 61 (1974).

Recent constriction of the required establishment of credibility of the informer is evidenced by the exclusion of identified bystanders or victim-eyewitnesses to a crime from the strictures of Aguilar and Spinelli. United States v. Bell, 457 F.2d 1231 (5th Cir. 1972). Specificity of information accompanied by absence of ulterior motives has been held sufficient to constitute reliability. United States v. Unger, 469 F.2d 1283 (7th Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 411 U.S. 920, 93 S.Ct. 1546, 36 L.Ed.2d 313 (1973). Furthermore, not only have citizen informers been distinguished from paid informers but it has been held that affidavits which fail to fully meet the Aguilar tests 'many be sufficient if circumstances show that it is likely to be as reliable as one which does meet the tests. Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637 (1969).' United States v. Spach, 518 F.2d 866, 869 (7th Cir. 1975); State v. Houlf, 20 Cr.L. 2102 (Ariz.Ct.App. 9/16/76).

The affidavit in this case clearly justified the issuance of the warrant under these tests. Specific and detailed information from personal deservation was relayed to the magistrate. The informer was not motivated by financial remuneration but acted as a concerned citizen. Not only was she named, but her described position as manager of the apartments indicated a supervisory capacity which could enhance both opportunity and reliability of her observation of those units for which she was personally responsible. There was no evidence that the information was supplied due to self-serving motives or rancor. In fact, her actions were against her best business interests as a forfeiture of the tenants of this apartment was inevitable. While perhaps no one...

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29 cases
  • Decina v. Horry Cnty. Police Dep't
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • August 24, 2021
    ...a sworn affidavit incorporated the written statement when the affidavit directly and expressly referred to it. See State v. Sullivan, 267 S.C. 610, 230 S.E.2d 621 (1976) (affidavits in support of search warrants should be viewed in a common sense and realistic fashion since they are not met......
  • State v. Dupree
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 30, 2003 the haste of a criminal investigation, and should therefore be viewed in a common sense and realistic fashion. State v. Sullivan, 267 S.C. 610, 230 S.E.2d 621 (1976); Arnold, 319 S.C. at 260, 460 S.E.2d at 405. Our task is to decide whether the magistrate had a substantial basis for conc......
  • State v. Fletcher
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 31, 2005 the haste of a criminal investigation, and should therefore be viewed in a common sense and realistic fashion. State v. Sullivan, 267 S.C. 610, 230 S.E.2d 621 (1976); Dupree, 354 S.C. at 683, 583 S.E.2d at 441. Affidavits must be judged on the facts presented and not on the precise wordi......
  • State v. Bowie, 3835.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 28, 2004
    ...Weston, 329 S.C. 287, 494 S.E.2d 801 (1997); State v. Driggers, 322 S.C. 506, 473 S.E.2d 57 (Ct.App.1996); see also State v. Sullivan, 267 S.C. 610, 230 S.E.2d 621 (1976) (magistrate's determination of probable cause should be paid great deference by reviewing LAW/ANALYSIS I. SEARCH WARRANT......
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