An agent and representative of the Bureau of Internal Revenue alleged that fraudulent books, letters and papers or records were being kept in the building occupied by the defendant. After the complainant made his affidavit, the judge issued the questioned warrant commanding the peace officers to search said building. Among the items seized was an art metal filing cabinet claimed by petitioner-appellant to be his and to contain some letters, documents and papers belonging to his clients.
Whether or not the search and seizure were valid.
NO. The affidavit did not state that the books, documents or records referred to therein are being used or are intended to be used in the commission of fraud against the Government. It assumes that the entire building is occupied by the defendant against whom the warrant was exclusively issued when the only ground upon which such assumption is based on is a mere hearsay and when in fact part thereof was occupied by the appellant. The search warrant did not ask that the things belonging to the appellant and to others also be searched. The warrant has gone beyond what had been applied for, and the agents who executed it performed acts not authorized by the warrant. The search warrant was unreasonable, it being evident that its purpose was solely to fish for evidence or search for it by exploration. Search warrants have not been designed for such purpose.
Appealed judgment is REVERSED and it is ordered that the art metal filing cabinet seized by the internal revenue agents be IMMEDIATELY RETURNED UNOPENED.