It was the reviewing court that failed to apply the proper standard, one of “great deference,” to the original judge’s determination. See Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 419 (1969).
For the Judge that issues the warrant the standard is rather low: To reiterate, “it is the ‘probability, and not a prima facie showing, of criminal activity [that] is the standard of probable cause.’” Doorbal v. State, 837 So. 2d 940, 952-53 (Fla. 2003)
For the Judge that reviews the warrant, the standard is shockingly low:
However, in reviewing a prior determination of probable cause and the issuance of the search warrant, the reviewing court must “accord ‘great deference’ to a magistrate’s determination,” even in a marginal or doubtful case. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 914 (1984) (citing Spinelli, 393 U.S. at 419); see United States v. Lockett, 674 F.2d 843, 845 (11th Cir. 1982). In fact, “once a Magistrate has found probable cause and has issued a warrant, his judgment is conclusive unless arbitrarily exercised . . . .” United States v. Giacalone, 541 F.2d5508, 513 (6th Cir. 1976). Therefore, “the trial court should not disturb an issuing magistrate’s determination absent a clear determination that the magistrate abused his discretion in relying on the information in the affidavit supporting the warrant application to find probable cause.” Woldridge, 958 So. 2d at 458 (citing State v. Price, 564 So. 2d 1239, 1241 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990)). To that end, the trial court, when reviewing the issuance of a warrant based on a probable cause affidavit, “does not conduct a de novo determination of whether there was probable cause to issue the warrant. Instead, the trial court determines only whether substantial evidence supported the magistrate’s determination that probable cause existed.” Woldridge, 958 So. 2d at 458 (citing Bonilla v. State, 579 So. 2d 802, 805 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991)).
Rumpole says: Ouch.