State v. Pierce

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-11-2014
  • Case #: A146946
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Devore, J. for the Court; Nakamoto, J.; & Schuman, S.J.

If a judge does not have personal knowledge of the matter in controversy then the judge does not violate the “neutral and detached” requirement of Oregon and federal law when granting search warrants.

Defendant appeals his conviction of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft. A search of Defendant’s house resulted in evidence of stolen items that led to his arrest and conviction. Defendant moved to suppress this evidence, claiming the judge who approved the search warrants was not “neutral and detached” because he had represented Defendant for similar criminal charges five years prior. The Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct, states a judge is required to recluse himself whenever the “judge’s impartiality reasonably may be questioned.” The Court found that the judge’s impartiality could not be reasonably questioned because the judge had not been an attorney in the matter in controversy and had no personal knowledge of the disputed facts related to Defendant’s burglary and theft charges. The Court held that the judge’s prior involvement with Defendant did not preclude him from ordering the search warrants. Therefore, the search warrants were valid and the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress the evidence. Affirmed.

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