It is said that it is better that a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished (feel free to substitute whatever number you think the adage specifies). On the other hand, as Justice Benjamin Cardozo famously asked, "should the criminal go free because the constable has blundered?"
I was reminded of this famous dichotomy when I was catching up on some back issues of the Wine Spectator that had somehow slipped through the cracks. In the November 30, 2012 issue, I read that:
Accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan [was contesting] the legality of FBI agents' search of his home, which occurred after his arrest in a Los Angeles suburb last March. ...
In that search, according to a grand jury indictment, agents found an elaborate setup for wine counterfeiting, including thousands of fake labels for wines with vintages as far back as 1899, and labels for all the first-growths of Bordeaux and several highly sought-after Burgundies.The operation also housed a cork inserter, hundreds of used corks, bags of new corks and foil capsules.
According to a source close to the defense, FBI agents had an arrest warrant but no search warrant when they entered the house Kurniawan shared with his mother. The agents arrested Kurniawan and also "looked around," according to the source. Only later did the agents return to Kurniawan's house with a search warrant to execute a "protective sweep" of the home.
On criminal procedure issues, I tend to come down hard on the civil libertarian side. But wine fraud on this scale put that tendency to the test ... big time.
Indeed, I must confess to being pleased to learn that Kurniawan's Fourth Amendment arguments were rejected:
When news that Federal Judge Richard Berman ruled the FBI had probable cause to search the home of Rudy Kurniawan broke, wine lovers all of the world rejoiced! Now that Judge Berman ruled that the search warrant had a sound basis for probable cause, the trial of Rudy Kurniawan could take to place shortly!
Had the case come out the other way, I admit I would be sorely tempted to advocate a wine fraud exception to the Fourth Amendment!