7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. Levaughn Collins
Case No.: 21-3156
Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Ripple and Kirsch, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Suppression of Evidence
Collins supplied wholesale quantities of heroin to a drug trafficking organization on the west side of Chicago. He pleaded guilty to multiple crimes but reserved his right to appeal the denial of two motions to suppress wiretap evidence. Both motions concerned the government’s failure to properly seal certain recordings. The district court denied the first motion because the government agreed not to use any improperly sealed recordings at trial, no subsequent evidence relied on such recordings, and the government provided a satisfactory explanation for its error. The court denied the second motion—which involved the failure to properly seal recordings from another phone—because the government agreed to suppress all recordings from that phone, only one subsequent wiretap application relied on the unsealed recordings and that application was submitted and approved by the court before the government’s sealing obligation had kicked in, and the government adequately explained its sealing mistake. The Seventh Circuit agreed. The government’s voluntary suppression of the unsealed recordings indicated that they were not central to the case, which supported the government’s explanation.