636 F.3d 228 (6th Cir. 2011), 09-1788, United States v. Lanier

Docket Nº:09-1788.
Citation:636 F.3d 228
Opinion Judge:SUTTON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Denois E. LANIER, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Lawrence J. Phelan, Haehnel & Phelan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant. Jennifer L. McManus, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee. Lawrence J. Phelan, Haehnel & Phelan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant. Jennifer L. McManus, Assistant United States Attor...
Judge Panel:Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; MARTIN and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 14, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 228

636 F.3d 228 (6th Cir. 2011)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Denois E. LANIER, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 09-1788.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

April 14, 2011

Argued: Jan. 18, 2011.

Page 229

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 230

ARGUED:

Lawrence J. Phelan, Haehnel & Phelan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

Jennifer L. McManus, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Lawrence J. Phelan, Haehnel & Phelan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

Jennifer L. McManus, Assistant United States Attorney, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; MARTIN and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SUTTON, Circuit Judge.

Denois Lanier rented a room in the Comfort Suites hotel in Benton Harbor, Michigan. A few minutes after the 11:00 a.m. check-out time, a housekeeper entered the room (after knocking and hearing no answer) and noticed what appeared to be a large quantity of drugs in the room. Management called the police and allowed an officer to search the room at 11:30 a.m., one half-hour after the check-out time but one half-hour before the end of the traditional grace period given to guests before the hotel deactivated their electronic keycards. The police found a considerable amount of cocaine and a scale. When Lanier later returned to the hotel, the police arrested him, after which Lanier challenged the search and arrest on Fourth Amendment grounds.

As we see it, and as the district court saw it, Lanier had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his hotel room at the time of the search. There is nothing unusual about a hotel housekeeper's entering a room after the check-out time and after no one responds to a knock on the door. And once the hotel learned of the presence of drugs in the room, it had every right to grant access to the police to determine whether the room was being used for illegal purposes. Because the police also had probable cause to arrest Lanier and because his below-guidelines sentence was reasonable, we affirm.

I.

On March 25, 2008, just after 11:00 a.m., Stephanie Price was completing her rounds as a housekeeper at the Comfort Suites hotel in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The hotel required guests to check out by 11:00 a.m., and Price was preparing the rooms for the next day's guests. She knocked on the door for Room 206 three or four times but heard no answer. Noting a " Do Not Disturb" sign hanging on the doorknob, Price called her manager, Stephanie Klein, to ask whether she should enter the room. Klein told her to do so.

Price entered the room, and after seeing some clothing hanging on a chair, she called the front desk to ask whether she should proceed to clean the room. The front-desk clerk, Jamie Marie Wilson, told her to " ‘ go ahead and clean the room, and we'll put [the clothing] in the lost and found.’ " R.32 at 148. Near the microwave, Price found baggies containing what looked like crack cocaine and a larger Ziploc bag containing what looked like powder cocaine; and, in the trash can, she found a measuring scale. Wilson and Klein checked the room and the baggies

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for themselves, and Wilson called the police.

Between 11:20 and 11:30 a.m., State Trooper Matthew Churchill responded. Stephanie Price met Churchill in the lobby and took him to Room 206, where she showed him the scale as well as the crack and powder cocaine. Churchill and Price left the room to wait for another officer.

As Trooper Churchill waited outside Room 206 for the officer's arrival, he heard running footsteps on the floor above him. Rhoda Spears, another housekeeper, burst into the hallway, saying something like, " ‘ He's here, he's here, he's here,’ or ‘ I think he's here, I think he's here,’ or ... ‘ Here they come, here they come.’ " R.65 at 7. Churchill pressed for more information: " Who?" or " Here who come[s]?" R.32 at 24; R.65 at 7. Spears responded, " The person in the room." R.65 at 7.

Trooper Churchill walked to the stairway where Spears was standing. Spears told him, " They're parking. They are coming in the building right now." R.32 at 25. Churchill heard a keycard sliding into a card reader, a beep and a door opening. Churchill walked down the stairs, saw Lanier and arrested him.

A federal grand jury charged Lanier with distributing crack and powder cocaine. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B)(iii), 841(b)(1)(C). Lanier filed a motion to suppress the evidence discovered in the room and during the encounter. The district court upheld the search of the room because Lanier had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the room at the time of the search, and it upheld the seizure because the police had probable cause to arrest him at the time of the seizure...

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