On Appeal From the United States District Court For the Western District of Pennsylvania. (D.C. Criminal Action No. 92-00065-01).
Before: Stapleton and Alito, Circuit Judges, and Pollak, District Judge*fn* .
STAPLETON, Circuit Judge:
Appellant, Dante Renault Williams, was charged in a multi-count indictment with a variety of narcotics related offenses. He promptly moved to suppress the fruits of a warrant- authorized search of Rooms 331 and 333 at the Greentree Holiday Inn by members of the Police Department of Greentree, Pennsylvania. After a hearing, the district court granted his motion to suppress. On the same day, the government filed this interlocutory appeal under 18 U.S.C. § 3731. We are presented with two issues: whether probable cause existed to support issuance of the warrant, and whether the executing officers' reliance on the warrant's validity was objectively reasonable.
The affidavit submitted by the police in support of their application for a search warrant reported in its entirety:
On October 5, 1989, these Affiants received information from a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn, Green Tree, that the occupants of rooms 331 and 333 are engaged in illicit drug dealing.
The anonymous informant, which the Affiant's [sic] believe to be reliable, advised that two black males, one from California, had rented two adjoining rooms, paying cash for the rooms, in addition to other hotel services. The informant saw one of the two display a large roll of paper currency, the majority of which were 100 dollar bills. They were also observed leaving room 331 or 333 individually, and upon returning, knocking on the room door in a distinctive 'coded' manner, that being two knocks, a pause, followed by three more knocks. This manner of leaving and reentering the room continued throughout the day.
The informant also observed one of the room occupants meet on several occasions in the hotel parking lot with unidentified persons who remained in their vehicle throughout the meeting. When they returned to their room, the [sic] entered with the before mentioned "coded" knock.
It was also learned that the housekeeper, when attempting to clean rooms 331 and 333 observed small plastic baggies, in addition to cigarette rolling papers. She described the plastic baggies as similar to those she recognized while watching a news segment about drug sales, that are commonly used by drug dealers. These items were observed only after the housekeeper was refused admittance to clean the room until a box of unknown content was removed by the occupants from the room to be cleaned, into the adjoining room.
These Affiant's [sic] investigation reveals that rooms 331 and 333 were rented to Darin Birts, B/M, D.O.B. 12/4/64, California operator's licence [sic] numberC2064168 [sic], 5625 Blackwedger St., Los Angeles, CA90019. A criminal history check of this individual revealed several aliases, along with at least two convictions on felony drug offenses on 9/7/86, and 10/14/86, both of which resulted in prison sentences.
These Affiant's [sic] request a search warrant to be issued on the above-mentioned information from an anonymous informant which these affiants recognize as fitting the profile of individuals involved in drug transactions. In addition to fitting the profile of drug dealers, is the fact that Darin Birts [sic] criminal history includes felony drug convictions. (App. 22 and 214-5).
In reliance on this affidavit, the magistrate issued a warrant authorizing a search of the motel rooms and seizure of "all drugs, drug paraphernalia, cash money, [and] weapons."*fn1 The ...