Suppression of a Search Warrant During a Murder Investigation

In State v. Jones, 308 N.J. Super 15, 705 A.2d 373 (App.Div.1998), the Appellate Division reversed the motion judge's suppression of a search warrant obtained during a murder investigation. The warrant authorized the seizure from the suspect's home of "any paperwork, including letters, papers or other writings that may establish a motive for the crime of homicide and/or a relationship between the victim and the suspect, and any other paperwork or other material which established identity. . Id. at 27, 705 A.2d 373. The motion judge reasoned that the basis for probable cause "is not whether the issuing judge could, pursuant to common sense, reasonably believe that certain items might be found in a particular place but whether the judge was presented with facts supporting probable cause to believe that the items would be found." Id. at 28, 705 A.2d 373. In reversing the motion judge, the Appellate Division stated that the "wrong test of probable cause" had been applied and that the judge's requirement that the warrant application establish a likelihood that these items would be found was "contrary to the United States Supreme Court's rejection of '(f)inely tuned standards such as proof beyond a reasonable doubt or by a preponderance of the evidence,' Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 235, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 2330, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 at 546 and violates the preferred standard of 'fair probability.'" State v. Jones, supra, at 28, 705 A.2d 373.