905 N.W.2d 758 (N.D. 2018), 20170163, State v. Adams

Docket Nº20170163
Citation905 N.W.2d 758, 2018 ND 18
Opinion JudgeMcEvers, Justice.
Party NameSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee v. Casey Olson ADAMS, Defendant and Appellant
AttorneyCarmell F. Mattison, Assistant State’s Attorney, Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellee. Samuel A. Gereszek, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellant.
Judge PanelLisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Jon J. Jensen, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Tufte, Justice, concurring.
Case DateJanuary 22, 2018
CourtSupreme Court of North Dakota

Page 758

905 N.W.2d 758 (N.D. 2018)

2018 ND 18

STATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee

v.

Casey Olson ADAMS, Defendant and Appellant

No. 20170163

Supreme Court of North Dakota

January 22, 2018

Page 759

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 760

Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Lolita G. Hartl Romanick, Judge.

Carmell F. Mattison, Assistant State’s Attorney, Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

Samuel A. Gereszek, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellant.

OPINION

McEvers, Justice.

[¶1] Casey Adams appeals from a criminal judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia. We affirm, concluding Adams’ argument that the evidence at the preliminary hearing did not support the district court’s probable cause finding is moot. We further conclude the district court did not err in denying Adams’ motion to suppress evidence because Adams failed to show he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the backpacks.

I

[¶2] On June 24, 2016, police received a report of suspicious activity in a Grand Forks parking lot. The caller reported individuals moving backpacks from a Nissan into a Cadillac, among other suspicious behavior. Three officers responded to the scene. The officers testified they observed the individuals displaying odd behavior, consistent with drug use. One officer observed a blue container he believed to be drug paraphernalia inside the Cadillac, indicating he saw a crystal or powder substance on it and it was similar to a container used in a separate drug related call less than 24 hours prior. Three individuals were in the Cadillac and Adams was in the Nissan. No consent was given to search either vehicle. Based on the observation of the blue container in plain view, the officers searched the Cadillac and seized more than 80 items relating to drug use.

[¶3] Adams moved to suppress the evidence seized from the Cadillac. Adams argued his Fourth Amendment rights were violated on the basis that the search of the vehicle was a warrantless search for which no valid exceptions applied. The district court concluded Adams did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the Cadillac or the containers within the vehicle and therefore lacked " standing" to challenge the search and seizure of evidence from those areas. The court denied Adams’ motion to suppress evidence.

[¶4] In March 2017, the district court held a trial and the jury returned verdicts of not guilty to possession of heroin and guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia.

II

[¶5] Adams argues the district court erred by finding probable cause he possessed the drugs and drug paraphernalia at the preliminary hearing. It is unnecessary to decide whether the district court

Page 761

erred when it found probable cause existed to bind Adams over for trial, because that issue became moot when the charges were tried.

[¶6] In State v. Montplaisir, 2015 ND 237, ¶ 16, 869 N.W.2d 435, this Court held: [A] district court’s decision at a preliminary hearing that probable cause existed to bind a defendant over for trial is rendered moot once the trial is held. A defendant who is found guilty at trial may not, on appeal, challenge the district court’s decision on probable cause at the preliminary hearing.

Therefore, we need not address Adams’ argument alleging the district court erred in finding probable cause existed to bind him over for trial.

III

[¶7] Adams argues he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the backpacks contained in the Cadillac. The State argues Adams lacked standing to contest the search. Adams only raises the privacy issue as to the backpacks contained within the Cadillac. Adams does not argue he has a privacy interest in the Cadillac itself.

[¶8] When reviewing a district court’s decision on a motion to suppress: We will defer to a [district] court’s findings of fact in the disposition of a motion to suppress. Conflicts in testimony will be resolved in favor of affirmance, as we recognize the [district] court is in a superior position to assess credibility of witnesses and weigh the evidence. Generally, a [district] court’s decision to deny a motion to suppress will not be reversed if there is sufficient competent evidence capable of supporting the [district] court’s findings, and if its decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

State v. Gatlin, 2014 ND 162, ¶ 4, 851 N.W.2d 178 (citation omitted).

[¶9] Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in an area is reviewed under the de novo standard of review. State v. Williams, 2015 ND 103, ¶ 14, 862 N.W.2d 831. An individual’s capacity to challenge a search or seizure depends on " whether ‘the disputed search and seizure has infringed an interest of the defendant which the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect.’ " In those interests, an individual is said to have " a reasonable expectation of privacy." A reasonable expectation of privacy has two elements: 1) the individual must exhibit an actual, subjective expectation of privacy, and 2) that expectation must be one that society recognizes as reasonable.

Gatlin, 2014 ND 162, ¶ 5, 851 N.W.2d 178 (citations omitted). " Whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in a given area must be decided on a case-by-case basis." State v. Kitchen, 1997 ND 241, ¶ 12, 572 N.W.2d 106. In the context of a search of a residence, this Court has...

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3 practice notes
  • State v. Casatelli, 011221 NDSC, 20200096
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • January 12, 2021
    ...has a reasonable expectation of privacy in an area is reviewed under the de novo standard of review." State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 9, 905 N.W.2d 758 (citing State v. Williams, 2015 ND 103, ¶ 14, 862 N.W.2d 831) (emphasis added). "Whether there is a reason......
  • 927 N.W.2d 84 (N.D. 2019), 20180239, State v. Gardner
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 16, 2019
    ...the district court’s findings, and if its decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 8, 905 N.W.2d 758. Although we defer to the district court’s resolution of underlying factual disputes, the ultimate conclusion o......
  • State v. Gardner, 051619 NDSC, 20180239
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 16, 2019
    ...the district court's findings, and if its decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 8, 905 N.W.2d 758. Although we defer to the district court's resolution of underlying factual disputes, the ultimate conclusion o......
3 cases
  • State v. Casatelli, 011221 NDSC, 20200096
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • January 12, 2021
    ...has a reasonable expectation of privacy in an area is reviewed under the de novo standard of review." State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 9, 905 N.W.2d 758 (citing State v. Williams, 2015 ND 103, ¶ 14, 862 N.W.2d 831) (emphasis added). "Whether there is a reason......
  • 927 N.W.2d 84 (N.D. 2019), 20180239, State v. Gardner
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 16, 2019
    ...the district court’s findings, and if its decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 8, 905 N.W.2d 758. Although we defer to the district court’s resolution of underlying factual disputes, the ultimate conclusion o......
  • State v. Gardner, 051619 NDSC, 20180239
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 16, 2019
    ...the district court's findings, and if its decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. State v. Adams, 2018 ND 18, ¶ 8, 905 N.W.2d 758. Although we defer to the district court's resolution of underlying factual disputes, the ultimate conclusion o......