The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Wilson, over a three-judge dissent, determined that the search warrant did not authorize the search of defendant’s vehicles and the items seized were properly suppressed:
The requirement that warrants must describe with particularity the places, vehicles, and persons to be searched is vital to judicial supervision of the warrant process … . Warrants “interpose the detached and independent judgment of a neutral Magistrate between the interested viewpoint of those engaged in ferreting out crime and potential encroachments on the sanctity and privacy of the individual” … . To further that role, our constitution assigns to the magistrate the tasks of evaluating whether probable cause exists to initiate a search and defining the subjects to be searched … .
The particularity requirement protects the magistrate’s determination regarding the permissible scope of the search. Thus, to be valid, a search warrant must be “specific enough to leave no discretion to the executing officer” … . So important is the role of the neutral and detached magistrate that we have in the past parted ways from federal constitutional jurisprudence when we believed that an emerging rule of federal constitutional law “dilute[s] . . . the requirements of judicial supervision in the warrant process” …
… The application contained no mention of the existence of the vehicles ultimately searched, much less evidence connecting them to any criminality. Indeed, the observed pattern, as described in the affidavit, was for Mr. Gordon [defendant] to proceed from the residence to the street and back, without detouring to any vehicles parked at the residence. … “[N]o observation was reported as to any movement of persons between the house and the [vehicles]” … that would substantiate a belief that the vehicles searched were utilized in the alleged criminal activity.
Nor do we believe that the warrant for Mr. Gordon’s “person” or “premises”—in the context of the factual allegations averred by the detectives—authorized a search of the vehicles. … [T]he mere presence of a vehicle seen at the sight of premises wherein the police suspect criminal activity to be occurring does not by itself provide probable cause to search the vehicle … . People v Gordon, 2021 NY Slip Op 01093, CtApp 2-18-21