STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Eugene George Schmit, Jr.,
Filed October 19, 1999
Anoka County District Court
File No. K5-97-13749
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, M. Katherine Doty, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, 7th Floor, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jack M. Stuart, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.[*]
Appellant Eugene George Schmit, Jr. challenges his conviction for possession of marijuana, alleging that the search warrant that authorized the search of his home was not supported by probable cause. Because the district court correctly found probable cause to support issuance of the search warrant, we affirm.
On June 6, 1997, the police applied for and received a warrant to search appellant's home for evidence of possession and/or sale of controlled substances. The affidavit supporting the warrant application stated: (1) the officer had received an anonymous tip that appellant was selling drugs to school children at his residence; (2) appellant had two prior drug arrests and one prior drug conviction; (3) garbage obtained from appellant's residence contained a "Zigzag" rolling papers wrapper and marijuana stems and seeds; and (4) the officer had observed many vehicles parked at appellant's home, a single family residence.
The search warrant was executed at appellant's home on June 12, 1997, and yielded 246.4 grams of marijuana. After he unsuccessfully attempted to flee the police, appellant was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana under Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(1) (1996).
At a contested omnibus hearing, appellant moved to suppress the marijuana found in his home, contending that the affidavit accompanying the warrant application did not provide sufficient probable cause to issue the warrant. The district court denied appellant's motion. Following a bench trial, the district court found appellant guilty. This appeal followed.
[t]he task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the "veracity" and "basis of knowledge" of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.
Gates, 462 U.S. at 238, 103 S. Ct. at 2332. In reviewing the sufficiency of an affidavit under the totality of the circumstances test, courts must be careful to avoid reviewing in isolation each component of the affidavit. State v. Albrecht, 465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1991). Further, doubtful or marginal cases should be largely determined by the preference to be accorded to warrants. State v. McCloskey, 453 N.W.2d 700, 704 (Minn. 1990) (quoting United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 109, 85 S. Ct. 741, 746 (1965)).
Appellant raises five arguments. He argues first that the anonymous tip was insufficient to support a finding of probable cause because there was no information in the affidavit regarding the accuracy or credibility of the informant. See State v. Ward, 580 N.W.2d 67, 71 (Minn. App. 1998) (an informant's reliability can be demonstrated where the informant has previously given police correct information); see also State v. Gabbert, 411 N.W.2d 209, 212 (Minn. App. 1987) (under the first-time citizen informant rule, "credibility of someone `who is not involved in the criminal underworld and who has no track record as a police informant' is presumed" (quoting State v. Siegfried, 274 N.W.2d 113, 115 (Minn. 1978))); see also Wiley, 366 N.W.2d at 269 (recent personal observation of incriminating conduct has traditionally been the preferred basis for an informant's knowledge). A single, anonymous tip that provides nothing from which one might conclude that the tipster is either honest or reliable and gives no indication of the basis of knowledge cannot provide probable cause. Gates, 462 U.S. at 227, 103 S. Ct. at 2326. But, while an informant's veracity and basis of knowledge are relevant considerations in a totality of the circumstances analysis, a deficiency in one can be compensated for by a strong showing as to the other, or by some other indicia of reliability. Id. at 233, 103 S. Ct. at 2329; see also State v. Eling, 355 N.W.2d 286, 291 (Minn. 1984) (the fact that an informant's reliability is unknown is not fatal to the determination of probable cause if there is corroborating evidence).
Second, appellant argues that the additional pieces of information obtained by the police were insufficient to corroborate the anonymous tip. Appellant contends that his prior drug arrests and conviction do not provide corroboration because they are stale. But the fact that a person has been in trouble with the law is of some, albeit limited, probative value. McCloskey, 453 N.W.2d at 704.
Third, appellant also contends that the "Zigzag" rolling papers wrapper and the marijuana stems and seeds found in his garbage do not corroborate the tip that he is selling marijuana and cocaine. But discovery of marijuana residue in a person's garbage can support a search warrant. See State v. Dreyer, 345 N.W.2d 249, 250 (Minn. 1984) ("[s]earch of the garbage resulted in the discovery of marijuana residue, which in turn led to the issuance of a warrant to search the `premises' * * *."). Here, the search warrant authorized a search for evidence of sales and/or possession of illegal drugs.
Fourth, appellant argues that the police should have made an effort to observe whether any school children were actually visiting appellant's home to buy drugs. Where there is otherwise sufficient evidence of intent to sell for remuneration, however, the state is not required to show a particular intended transaction. State v. Blahowski, 499 N.W.2d 521, 526 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. June 22, 1993).
Finally, appellant claims that the officer's observation of many vehicles parked outside appellant's home does not support a suspicion of drug sales. Observation of apparently innocent acts, however, can be significant to a trained officer. State v. Anderson, 439 N.W.2d 422, 426 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. June 21, 1989). Moreover, traffic patterns can become significant to a trained and experienced officer. See State v. Krech, 399 N.W.2d 203, 206 (Minn. App. 1987), aff'd as modified, 403 N.W.2d 634 (Minn. 1987). Here, the officer was a drug task force participant with specialized training and experience in the investigation of controlled substances offenses. The significance he attached to the vehicular traffic to and from appellant's home is entitled to some weight.
Viewing the components of the affidavit for the search warrant as a whole, we agree with the district court that the totality of the circumstances demonstrates a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime would be found in appellant's home. We therefore affirm.
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10.
 The officer also corroborated appellant's address, which had been provided by the anonymous informant. Corroboration of an address, while not a key detail, can still lend credibility to an informant's tip. See Wiley, 366 N.W.2d at 269.