Williams v. Kunze, 85-1784

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Citation806 F.2d 594
Docket NumberNo. 85-1784,85-1784
Parties-401, 87-1 USTC P 9160 Ronald WILLIAMS, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Robert KUNZE, IRS Agent, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date24 December 1986

Page 594

806 F.2d 594
59 A.F.T.R.2d 87-401, 87-1 USTC P 9160
Ronald WILLIAMS, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Robert KUNZE, IRS Agent, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 85-1784.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Dec. 24, 1986.

Page 595

Lawrence N. Bazrod, MacPherson & McCarville, Donald W. MacPherson, Phoenix, Ariz., for plaintiffs-appellants.

William A. Whitledge, Atty., Roger M. Olsen, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Michael L. Paup, Chief, Appellate Sec., and Charles E. Brookhart, Tax Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice,

Page 596

Washington, D.C., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GARZA, DAVIS and JONES, Circuit Judges.

GARZA, Circuit Judge.

Sometime before May of 1984, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service conducted an investigation of the activities of several allegedly fraudulent tax shelter schemes organized and operated from the Cayman Islands by United States Tax Planning Services, Ltd. ("USTPS"). The USTPS schemes involved the use of offshore entities and transactions to put funds beyond the reach of the IRS for the purpose of evading income taxes. USTPS is marketed through entities licensed by USTPS. The Plaintiff-Appellant, Worldwide Capital Management Corporation ("WCM"), a tax shelter planning consultant, was a licensee of USTPS.

Special Agent Robert Kunze, Defendant-Appellee, was assigned to determine whether WCM's activities violated the Internal Revenue Code. Under Kunze's direction, another agent acted in an undercover role as a broker and contacted WCM. Plaintiff-Appellant Ronald Williams, vice-president of WCM, allegedly told this agent that WCM operated to create deductions for insurance expense that did not exist through the use of offshore trusts and bank accounts. Williams also showed this agent and another agent acting as a client, the offices and records of WCM and further explained the mechanics of the illegal scheme.

Based on the information uncovered during the undercover operation, Kunze applied to a United States Magistrate for a warrant to search WCM's offices and to seize various records. The application was supported by Kunze's affidavit and the affidavit of Special Agent George Scott. Scott had previously coordinated the nationwide investigation of USTPS. The magistrate issued a warrant authorizing Kunze to search the premises of WCM and to seize eight categories of documentary evidence. 1 In essence, the Scott affidavit listed documents pertaining to the establishment of offshore entities or bank accounts, documents relating to commodity straddles, records reflecting fund transfers from or credit card transactions with offshore entities, records of insurance premiums paid to foreign corporations, client files identified with coded numbers, client prospect files and portfolio packets, and documents reflecting transactions with

Page 597

named individuals and entities, including each of the Appellants.

On May 8, 1984, fourteen special agents and other IRS personnel conducted a search of WCM's offices and seized 50,000 to 60,000 documents pursuant to the warrant. Approximately 85% of the documents were client files. A small number of personal items were erroneously seized and were subsequently returned to Appellants. The search lasted from approximately 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Appellant Williams was given a copy of the warrant as the agents entered WCM's offices. The warrant did not have the affidavits physically attached to it. However, at the completion of the search, copies of the affidavits, together with a copy of the inventory of items seized, were left on Williams' desk. Williams was read his non-custodial Miranda rights. Williams and his attorney were on the premises during the search. Plaintiff-Appellant, James Hearn, the president and sole shareholder of WCM, was not on WCM's premises during the search.

Appellants filed a complaint in the district court on May 22, 1984, seeking the return of the seized property, injunctive relief, and the suppression of evidence. Appellants later amended their complaint seeking Bivens-type damages based on constitutional tort theories, specifically first, fourth, fifth and ninth amendment violations. On October 15, 1985, the court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment. The court held that Appellants' fourth amendment claim did not overcome the agents' qualified immunity. Alternatively, it ruled that the individual defendants, Hearns and Williams, did not have standing to assert a fourth amendment claim because, as independent contractors, they had no expectation of privacy in WCM's offices. As to the first, fifth, and ninth amendment claims, the court found them to be without either factual or legal basis. On December 12, 1985, Appellants filed a timely notice of appeal.

Appellants urge several grounds for reversal. First, they argue that the warrant was invalid because it operated as a general warrant. The warrant allegedly failed to sufficiently limit the discretion of the executing officers to evidence relating to offshore entities. Second, the warrant was allegedly defective because it was overly broad. Appellants contend that although the Kunze and Scott affidavits may have established probable cause for the seizure of documents relating to offshore activities, it did not establish cause for the seizure of client files and other documents relating to domestic activity or personal items. Third, Appellants suggest that the execution of the warrant was constitutionally defective. They base this suggestion on the fact that the executing officers failed to deliver a copy of the affidavits supporting the search warrant at the commencement of the search. Fourth, the affidavits supporting the search were made in a reckless manner according to Appellants. They assert that they were entitled to a preliminary hearing on the issue of whether or not the affidavits were false or made with a reckless disregard for the truth pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 98 S.Ct. 2674, 57 L.Ed.2d 667 (1978).

Fifth, Appellants state that Appellees' conduct violated clearly established constitutional rights, thus abrogating any qualified immunity of Appellees. It is argued that the agents had no reasonable expectations that the personal items and domestic tax planning activities would fall within the scope of the warrant. Sixth, Appellants Hearn and Williams maintain that they had standing to assert a fourth amendment claim. They believe that they maintained reasonable expectations of privacy in their business and personal effects and can assert the rights of the corporation because they acted as officers.

Finally, Appellants challenge the district court's grant of summary judgment regarding the first, fifth and ninth amendment claims. Appellants claim a violation of their right to freely associate. The seizure of personal...

To continue reading

Request your trial
60 cases
  • Pleasant v. Lovell, 87-1384
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • May 16, 1989
    ...that the seizure of specific items was illegal and that it was so illegal that it violated clearly established law." Williams v. Kunze, 806 F.2d 594, 600 (5th Cir.1986). Should it have been apparent to the defendants that Adams would be perceived as an agent or instrument of the government,......
  • United States v. Sanjar, 15-20025
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 30, 2017
    ...). Generic language may satisfy this "particularity" requirement if describing a more specific item is not possible. Williams v. Kunze , 806 F.2d 594, 598 (5th Cir. 1986). The warrant must further not be overbroad, meaning "there must be probable cause to seize the particular things named i......
  • State v. DeSmidt, 88-1356-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • May 10, 1990
    ...be seized and removed from the premises irrespective of the nature of the business. See [155 Wis.2d 137] id. at 616; Williams v. Kunze, 806 F.2d 594, 598 (5th Cir.1986); Sawyer, 799 F.2d at Dr. DeSmidt further argues that the warrant was unreasonable because it was not limited in time to de......
  • U.S. v. Cooper, 02-40069-01/02/03-SAC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • August 21, 2003
    ...v. Britt, 508 F.2d 1052, 1055 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 825, 96 S.Ct. 40, 46 L.Ed.2d 42 (1975). See also Williams v. Kunze, 806 F.2d 594 (5th Cir.1986). Without a reasonable expectation of privacy in the seized materials, an officer may not challenge a search of the When a man choo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT