Minnesota v. Carter

Minnesota v. Carter Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
525 U.S. 83 (1998)

ISSUE: Does a temporary houseguest who is not staying overnight have a legitimate expectation of privacy such that he can object to an allegedly unreasonable search of the house?
HOLDING: No.
FACTS:
  • Police received a tip from a CI that cocaine was being packaged in a particular ground-level apartment as the CI had seen this in progress
  • Officer Thielen observed the apartment a saw through an opening in the closed blinds that this activity was indeed occurring
  • Police then stopped a car that was leaving the apartment in which Carter and Johns were driving and found a gun on the vehicle's floor
    • Later search of the car revealed pagers, a scale, and 47 grams of cocaine
  • Police returned to the apartment and found cocaine residue on the kitchen table and plastic baggies, so they arrested Thompson, the lessee of the apartment
    • Carter and John had never visited the apartment before and came there from Chicago just to do this packaging of the cocaine
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Ds moved to suppress the evidence as being the product of an unreasonable search and seizure
  • Trial Ct. denied, holding that as temporary out-of-state visitors, Ds were not entitled to bring a claim for suppression
  • Ct. App. affirmed
  • Minn. Sup. Ct. reversed, holding that Ds had "standing" because they had a legitimate expectation of privacy; also determined that the officer's viewing was an unreasonable search
REASONING:
  • Don't use "standing": Minn. courts used the "standing" analysis, but the correct approach is that the D must demonstrate that he personally has an expectation of privacy in the place searched and that such expectation is reasonable
  • Olson N/A: While an overnight guest may claim a legitimate expectation of privacy, one is merely present with the consent of the house owner may not
    • Ds were not overnight guests and were only there for a matter of hours for a business transaction
    • Expectations of privacy are diminished when premises are used just for commercial transactions
    • Any search that may have occurred did violated Ds' 4th Amdt. rights
CONCURRENCE - Scalia:
  • Obvious meaning of the "their...houses" language of the 4th Amdt. is that each person has the right to privacy in his own house
  • Entirely impossible to give an Olson characterization to an apartment that one uses to package cocaine
CONCURRENCE - Kennedy:
  • Almost all social house guests have a legitimate expectation of privacy and thus protection against unreasonable searches
  • Ds have no privacy right because they have established nothing more than a fleeting and insubstantial connection with the apartment
CONCURRENCE - Breyer: No claim for suppression because the alleged "search" did not violate the 4th Amdt.
DISSENT - Ginsburg:
  • When a homeowner or lessor who personally invites a guest into her home to share in a common endeavor, whatever that may be, or for business purposes, legal or not, that guest should shared his host's shelter from unreasonable searches and seizures
    • Not the "legitimately on premises" criterion
  • A home owner cannot be secure in his house if the govt. can enter it to obtain evidence against one of his guests
  • One need not remain overnight to anticipate privacy in another's home
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