Video: State Bill Colorado
In this video, Justice Nancy Rice voices concern that, using the logic of the Amalia’s warrant, sheriffs could get a warrant for all businesses in Weld County, or even for all tax returns held by the IRS. Richard Barkley, a Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck attorney for two Weld County officials, said that could legally happen.
By Matt Masich, STATE BILL COLORADO
DENVER — A search of a Greeley tax preparation firm was not unreasonable because warrants allow officers to search an entire location, an attorney for Weld County DA Ken Buck and Sheriff John Cooke argued today at the Colorado Supreme Court.
The case is Cerrillo v. Buck.
In April, District Judge James Hiatt found that Buck and Cooke had used an unlawfully broad search warrant to seize 5,000 tax returns from Amalia’s Translation and Tax Service, and that those returns could not be used to prosecute 1,300 illegal immigration cases that stemmed from the search. The search was prompted by a report of a single person suspected of using a false identity.
Richard Barkley, an attorney with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck representing the county officials, argued that securing a warrant to search Amalia’s allowed the DA to obtain not just the suspected identity thief’s file, but all others within the premises.
Justices Gregory Hobbs and Nancy Rice seemed concerned that, using the logic of the Amalia’s warrant, sheriffs could get a warrant for all businesses in Weld County, or even for all tax returns held by the IRS. Barkley said hypothetically that if the IRS did have a repository containing all Weld County residents’ tax returns located within the county, the DA would be able to get a warrant to search those for possible illegal activity.
The ACLU cooperating attorney, Liz Harris of Jacobs Chase Frick Kleinkopf & Kelley, representing Amalia’s argued the warrant was a “classic fishing expedition.” Harris compared searching all the files in Amalia’s to searching all the apartments in a complex when there is only probable cause to search one apartment.