The End of the Backdoor Search: Using Ornelas’s Review Standard to Prevent Illegal Predicate Searches Based on Falsely Sworn Affidavits

In the seminal case of Franks v. Delaware, the Supreme Court ex-pressly permitted trial courts to grant evidentiary “Franks hearings” to determine the veracity of warrant affidavits in certain circumstances. The Franks decision may represent a significant step toward the curtail-ment of unconstitutional police misconduct, but its ultimate effect remains to be seen. Although Franks appears well settled, much debate remains over the appeals process for the Franks hearings themselves.This note analyzes the appropriate standard of appellate review that should be applied in cases where the trial court denies a defendant the opportunity to receive a Franks hearing. While the circuits are split over the application of either the traditional de novo or abuse of discretion re-view standards, Holesinger adopts a compromise position—Ornelas’s standard of de novo review with due deference. Holesinger reaches this conclusion after analyzing various influential factors including the tradi-tional division of roles between trial and appellate courts, the effects on the warrant preference system, and the good faith warrant mistake doc-trine. Adopting this unique application of the Ornelas standard, Holesinger concludes that the key benefits of each of the traditional re-view standards will follow.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.