The opinion of the court was delivered by: BROTMAN
This case is now before the court on remand from the Court of Appeals. The court has been directed to redact the search warrant at issue in this case.
Defendants Howard Christine and Perry Grabosky are charged in a ten-count indictment with conspiring to violate, and violating, 18 U.S.C. § 657. It is alleged that the defendants, owners of a home improvement business, made payments to a savings and loan officer to induce him to approve credit applications by homeowners without regard for the creditworthiness of the applicants.
The government is seeking to introduce at trial evidence seized during a search of the defendants' business office. The search and seizure were executed pursuant to a warrant issued by United States Magistrate William J. Hunt on November 28, 1979. The warrant was based on an affidavit by one Richard Scott, an investigator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The defendants moved almost two years ago to suppress the property seized in the search. Their motion was granted by order of this court entered March 12, 1981. In our opinion filed that date, we found that the scope of the search authorized by the warrant greatly exceeded the probable cause showing made before the magistrate. We held that this invalidated the entire warrant and required the suppression of all property seized thereunder.
This decision was challenged by the United States, which moved for reconsideration on the grounds that the affidavit had established probable cause to believe that the defendants were engaged in widescale bankruptcy fraud, thus justifying the broad sweep of the warrant. This motion for reconsideration was denied by order of the court entered May 13, 1981. In our opinion filed that date, we rejected the government's contention that the affidavit established probable cause as to widescale bankruptcy fraud.
This decision was appealed. The appeal presented the Third Circuit with an opportunity to consider for the first time whether to adopt the practice of redaction, as a means of salvaging the valid, severable portions of a partially invalid search warrant. The Court of Appeals concluded that "redaction is an efficacious and constitutionally sound practice," United States v. Christine, 687 F.2d 749, 759 (3rd Cir. 1982), and vacated this court's suppression order. The case was remanded with instructions to consider redaction as an alternative to invalidating the entire search warrant.
On remand defendants contend, in the alternative, that: (1) none of the warrant's clauses is supported by probable cause; (2) each of the warrant's clauses is overly broad; (3) the warrant is not redactible. The government, by contrast, avers that the warrant may be redacted.
The critical section of the warrant, for our inquiry, is that describing the property to be seized. It reads:
(a) all folders and all documents contained therein and all other documents relating to home improvements and home improvement contracts pursuant to the HUD Title I Insured Home Improvement Loan program; (b) all checks, check stubs and bank statements, deposit slips and withdrawal slips, reflecting the receipt and disbursement of funds through Landmark Builders, Inc. for the period January 1, 1977, to the present; (c) all general ledgers, general journals, cash receipt disbursement ledgers and journals for the period January 1, 1977, to the present; (d) all correspondence to and from and submissions to Collective Federal Savings and Loan; and (e) all other documents, papers, instrumentalities and fruits of the crime of submission of false statements in connection with the ...