Saturday, November 21, 2015

Social guest generally not subject to search warrant of premises

Tracey T. Beverlin won in State v. Hunter, No. 112,963 (Kan. App. Oct. 30, 2015)(unpublished), summarily affirming Judge Meisenheimer's suppression order in a Pratt County drug prosecution. Officers had a search warrant for a residence and when they executed that warrant, officers met Ms. Hunter at the front door. Ms. Hunter provided her ID to the officers from her purse and then indicated she wanted to leave. Officers detained her telling her she was subject to the search warrant. Officers conducted nonconsensual search of Ms. Hunter's purse and found amphetamines and marijuana.

At trial, Ms. Hunter argued that the officer was not authorized to search her purse pursuant to the warrant because there was insufficient evidence of a relationship between her and the residence. The district court agreed and the COA affirmed. The parties agreed that a social guest at a premises that is subject to a search warrant is not generally subject to a search, unless circumstances suggest a relationship between the person and the illegal activities described in the warrant. But the COA held that the district court's finding that the state had failed to prove such circumstances was supported:
In any event, as the district court found, there was no evidence establishing a relationship. The search warrant application was based on Reyna's report to McCarley that he previously had smoked marijuana and methamphetamine with Roberts at the residence on Brendon Court. Specifically, Reyna told McCarley that on the evening of December 14, 2013, Reyna was at the residence and observed Roberts crush up some type of prescription pills, mix them into a solution, and use a needle to inject the solution into his body. Reyna told McCarley that Roberts did not have a prescription for these pills. As the district court found, there was absolutely no evidence connecting Hunter with the illegal activities described in the application for the search warrant. The district court found this lack of connection to be especially apparent because it had been more than 2 days from the time that Reyna had observed Roberts crushing up the prescription pills to the time that Hunter's purse was searched without her consent.
[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on December 14, 2015.]

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