You’re the Judge This week, you are a judge in a federal district court where a man has been charged with possessing and distributing cocaine. The police obtained the evidence of his drug possession a

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You’re the Judge

This week, you are a judge in a federal district court where a man has been charged with possessing and distributing cocaine. The police obtained the evidence of his drug possession and sale by searching his home. Police arrived at the defendant’s house without a warrant, and the defendant and his wife were at home. The officers knocked, and the wife answered the door and consented to the search. The defendant objected to the search. The defendant has filed a motion to have the evidence excluded from his trial. Decide if the evidence should be admitted, and provide the best arguments both the prosecutor and defendant can make to win the motion

You’re the Judge This week, you are a judge in a federal district court where a man has been charged with possessing and distributing cocaine. The police obtained the evidence of his drug possession a
WhoAuthority? Explanation Spouse Yes: A spouse can give effective consent to search the family home. Exception: In Georgia v. Randolph (2006), the Court held that “a physically present co-occupant’s stated refusal to permit entry renders warrantless entry and search unreasonable and invalid as to him.” In this case, the defendant’s estranged wife gave police permission to search their residence for items of drug use after the defendant, who was also present, had unequivocally refused to give consent to the search. The Court ruled that, under the circumstances, the search was unreasonable and invalid. Former girlfriend or boyfriend: Yes, if he or she has apparent authority The Supreme Court has held that the warrantless entry of private premises by police officers is valid if based on the apparent authority principle. This applies when police obtained the consent of a third party whom they, at the time of entry, reasonably believed to possess common authority over the premise but who, in fact, did not have such authority (Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 [1990]). Roommate: Yes, but . . .A roommate may give valid consent to search the room. However, that consent cannot extend to areas in which another roommate has a reasonable expectation of privacy, because only he or she uses it. For example, suppose Joe gives consent for the police to search the studio apartment Joe and Fred occupy. That consent is valid with respect to all areas that both Joe and Fred use, such as the bathroom or study table. The consent is not valid for the search of Fred’s closet, to which only Fred has access. If Fred lives in another room (as in a multi-room apartment), Joe cannot give consent to search the room used only by Fred Facts: Janet Randolph notified police of a domestic dispute and informed them that her husband, Scott Randolph, had just taken their son away. When officers responded, the wife told them her husband was a cocaine user. Shortly after the police arrived at the Randolphs’ residence, Scott Randolph returned. He denied using cocaine, saying it was his wife who abused drugs. Later, the wife reaffirmed Randolph’s drug use and told police there was “drug evidence” in the house. An officer asked Randolph for permission to search the house, which he unequivocally denied. The officer then asked the wife for consent to search, which she readily gave. She led officers to Randolph’s bedroom. The officers found a section of a drinking straw with a powdery residue suspected to be cocaine. Officers then contacted the district attorney’s office. The office instructed them to stop the search and apply for a warrant. When the officers returned to the house, the wife withdrew her consent. The police took the straw to the police station, along with the Randolphs. After obtaining a search warrant, officers returned to the house and seized further evidence of drug use. Randolph was indicted for possession of cocaine and convicted in the trial court. He appealed his conviction, saying the evidence against him was illegally seized against his consent. Issue or Issues: Is a warrantless search of a shared dwelling valid when one occupant gives consent but another occupant who is present expressly refuses to give consent? No.Decision: The judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia was affirmed. Holding: A warrantless search of a shared dwelling for evidence over the clear refusal of consent by a physically present resident cannot be justified as reasonable as to him on the basis of consent given to the police by another resident. Case Significance: Consent is an exception to the Fourth Amendment rule requiring probable cause and a warrant in search and seizure cases. In previous cases, the Court recognized the validity of searches based on voluntary consent of an individual who shares common authority over property to be searched. None of the co-occupant consent-to-search cases, however, included the circumstances of a second occupant physically present and refusing permission to search. This case resolves an issue that was not previously addressed by the Court: whether consent by an occupant of a dwelling over the expressed objection of another occupant authorizes the police to conduct a warrantless search. Previous U.S. Supreme Court cases said one consent sufficed. In previous cases, however, the other occupant was either away or did not expressly refuse consent. In this case, the other occupant (the husband) was present and specifically refused to give consent.The Court held the search invalid as to the occupant who specifically refused consent. The majority stated, however, that this ruling does not apply to the following three situations: (1) when “the police must enter a dwelling to protect a resident from domestic violence, so long as they have good reason to believe such a threat exists,” (2) in cases where the purpose of the entry is “to give a complaining tenant the opportunity to collect belongings and get out safely, or to determine whether violence (or threat of violence) has just occurred or is about to (soon will) occur, however much a spouse or other co-tenant objected,” and (3) in cases where the person giving consent is in a position of authority in a “recognized hierarchy,” such as parent and child or “barracks housing military personnel of different grades.” Excerpts from the Decision: [It] is fair to say that a caller standing at the door of shared premises would have no confidence that one occupant’s invitation was a sufficiently good reason to enter when a fellow tenant stood there saying, “Stay out.” Without some very good reason, no sensible person would go inside under those conditions. . . . The visitor’s reticence without some such good reason would show not timidity but a realization that when people living together disagree over the use of their common quarters, a resolution must come through voluntary accommodation, not by appeals to authority. . . . Since the co-tenant wishing to open the door to a third party has no recognized authority in law or social practice to prevail over a present and objecting co-tenant, his disputed invitation, without more, gives a police officer no better claim to reasonableness in entering than the officer would have in the absence of any consent at all. . . . So long as there is no evidence that the police have removed the potentially objecting tenant from the entrance for the sake of avoiding a possible objection, there is practical value in the simple clarity of complementary rules, one recognizing the co-tenant’s permission when there is no fellow occupant on hand, the other according dispositive weight to the fellow occupant’s contrary indication when he expresses it Facts: Chimel was suspected of having robbed a coin shop. Armed with an arrest warrant (but not a search warrant), police officers went to Chimel’s house and were admitted by his wife. Chimel was not at home but was immediately arrested when he arrived. The police asked Chimel if they could “look around.” Chimel denied the request, but the officers searched the entire house anyway and discovered some stolen coins. At the trial, the coins were introduced as evidence over Chimel’s objection. Chimel was convicted of robbery. He appealed to the Supreme Court of California, which upheld his conviction. He then took his case to the United States Supreme Court. Issue or Issues: In the course of making a lawful arrest, may officers search the immediate area where the person was arrested without a search warrant? Yes. Holding: After making an arrest, the police may search the area within the person’s immediate control. The purpose of such a search is to discover and remove weapons and to prevent the destruction of evidence. Case Significance: Chimel categorically states that the police may search the area in the arrestee’s “immediate control” when making a valid arrest, whether the arrest takes place with or without a warrant. That area of immediate control is defined by the Court as “the area from within which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.” Chimel authoritatively settled an issue over which lower courts had given inconsistent rulings. The current rule is that the police may search without a warrant after a lawful arrest, but the extent of that search is limited to the area of the arrestee’s immediate control. The safest, and most limited, interpretation of the term area of immediate control is a person’s wingspan, within which it might be possible to grab a weapon or destroy evidence. Some lower courts have given a more liberal interpretation to include such areas as the whole room in which the person is arrested. This interpretation appears to go beyond what the Court had in mind in Chimel. Excerpts from the Opinion: When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officer’s safety might well be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence on the arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction. And the area into which an arrestee might reach in order to grab a weapon or evidentiary items must, of course, be governed by a like rule. . . . There is ample justification, therefore, for a search of the arrestee’s person and the area within his immediate control

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