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Oregon Supreme Court 05-27-10

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by: Abassos • May 26, 2010 • no comments

Read the full article for details about the following new cases:

  • Privacy Interest - Abandonment - Hotel Room

Where defendant denied ownership of a bag in a hotel room and gave the police a false name, she relinquished her possessory and privacy interests in the bag. When the person who rented the hotel room gave permission to search, the police had the consent of the only person that mattered. Trial and Appellate Court reversed:

In light of those cases, we now return to the issue of what weight should be given in this case to defendant having left the bags in a locked room rented by someone she knew. We conclude that that fact does not affect our holding that defendant had relinquished her constitutionally protected interests in the bags. As we have already noted, defendant disclaimed ownership of the bags and voluntarily gave up possession of them. In doing so, she abandoned her bags in a locked room to which she would not have access. Defendant thus relinquished her possessory rights in the bags to Beal. See Howard/Dawson, 342 Or at 640 (noting that it was uncontested that the defendants had relinquished their possessory interests in garbage to the sanitation company, once the sanitation company had picked up the garbage). Because defendant had relinquished her possessory rights, she also had relinquished her privacy interests in the bags. See id. at 642-43 ("when a person gives up all rights to control the disposition of property, that person also gives up his or her privacy interest in the property in the same way that he or she would if the property had been abandoned"). Beal, by virtue of his control of the room, held the only remaining possessory and privacy interest in the two bags. Beal's consent to a search relinquished the remaining privacy interest in the room and its contents. See Tanner, 304 Or at 322 ("B's section 9 interests will not be violated if A allows the police to enter the house and discover the effects, * * * because A controls access to the house * * *."). Accordingly, when Officer Pfaff searched the two bags, she did not violate any constitutionally protected privacy interest held by defendant. The Court of Appeals and the trial court erred in holding otherwise.

State v. Brown