428 F.3d 877 (9th Cir. 2005), 04-30516, United States v. Ruiz

Docket Nº:04-30516.
Citation:428 F.3d 877
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Abel Ike RUIZ, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:November 07, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 877

428 F.3d 877 (9th Cir. 2005)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Abel Ike RUIZ, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 04-30516.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

November 7, 2005

Argued and Submitted September 16, 2005—Portland, Oregon

Page 878


Matthew McHenry, Portland, Oregon, for defendant-appellant Abel Ike Ruiz.

Stephen F. Peifer, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, Oregon, for plaintiff-appellee United States of America.

Page 879

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, D.C. No. CR-03-00210-AJB, Anna J. Brown, District Judge, Presiding

Before: Raymond C. Fisher, Ronald M. Gould, and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges.


GOULD, Circuit Judge:

Abel Ike Ruiz pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Pursuant to his conditional plea agreement, Ruiz challenges the district court's denial, after hearing, of his motion to suppress evidence found in a trailer home. He argues that the district court erred in determining that a resident of the home, Charles Boswell, had the authority to consent to the warrantless search of a gun case found in the home, that the search of the gun case cannot be justified under the exigent circumstances or single-purpose container exceptions, and that all evidence obtained as a result of the allegedly illegal search is inadmissible. We hold that Boswell had apparent authority to consent to the search of the gun case, and we affirm.


On February 20, 2003, three Portland police officers accompanied Multnomah County parole officer David Upton to a trailer home in Portland, Oregon. They were looking for Bruce Lagrew, a parolee under Upton's supervision, because Upton had received anonymous tips that Lagrew possessed firearms in violation of state and federal law and the conditions of his parole.

Upton knocked on the door of the trailer and Boswell answered. Upton identified himself, explained that Lagrew had listed the trailer as his residence, and asked Boswell for consent to enter the trailer and look for Lagrew. Boswell is Lagrew's uncle, 1 and he told Upton that he had been living in the trailer along with Lagrew's mother for about a year. It is unclear whether the other officers overheard this exchange, but Officer Graham testified at the suppression hearing that at the time of the search it was his understanding that Boswell lived at the trailer. Although Boswell told Upton that Lagrew was not in the trailer home and that Lagrew no longer lived there, Boswell consented to Upton and the officers entering the trailer to verify that Lagrew was not present.

Upon entering the trailer, Upton and the officers saw a man, later identified as Ruiz, sleeping on a pull-out bed in the living room. Upton and Boswell went to the back of the trailer, while Officers Chamberlin, Graham, and Martin stayed near the entrance. Officers Chamberlin and Martin talked with Ruiz, who gave them his name and acknowledged that he was a felon who was recently off parole. Officer Chamberlin left the trailer to run background checks on Ruiz and Boswell. While Officer Chamberlin was outside, Officer Graham noticed a triangular, cloth case in plain view on a shelf in the living room above the foot of Ruiz's bed. The case was at Officer Graham's eye level, and he testified at the suppression hearing that he immediately recognized it as a gun case.

At about this time, Boswell and Upton returned to the living room, where Ruiz was still present. Officer Graham asked Boswell...

To continue reading