US v. King

Decision Date01 March 2010
Docket NumberCR. No. 09-00207 DAE.
Citation693 F. Supp.2d 1200
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Rodney D. KING, and [01] Sharon-Mae Nishimura [02], Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Hawaii

Darren W.K. Ching, Office of the United States Attorney, Honolulu, HI, for Plaintiff.


DAVID ALAN EZRA, District Judge.

In a hearing on February 8, 2010, and a continued hearing on February 11, 2010, the Court heard Defendant King's Motion. Edward G. Caspar, Esq., and Darren W.K. Ching, Assistant U.S. Attorney, appeared at the hearings on behalf of the Government; Matthew C. Winter, Assistant Federal Public Defender, appeared at the hearings on behalf of Defendant. After the hearings on the motion and reviewing the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.

Following this Court's issuance of its Order, the Ninth Circuit issued its en banc decision in Doody v. Schriro, 596 F.3d 620 (9th Cir.2010). The Court now addresses Doody's application to the instant case at Part V of this Amended Order, pages 55-56.


The Court repeats the background facts only as is necessary for a decision on Defendant Rodney King's Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements ("Mot.," Doc. # 52) in the discussion section below. At the suppression hearing on February 8, 2010 ("hearing") and the continued hearing on February 11, 2010 ("continued hearing"), the Government presented evidence establishing the facts that follow.

On May 9, 2008, at about 9:40 p.m., FBI agents led by Special Agent Mary Itnyre, having previously obtained an arrest warrant for Rodney King ("Defendant") for his violation of supervised release, located Defendant near the elevators in the lobby of the Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Island Colony Hotel in Honolulu. Special Agent Rachel Byrd testified that the agents identified themselves and ordered Defendant to lie on the ground. Defendant complied. Agents placed Defendant under arrest, cuffed Defendant's hands behind his back, and led him to the adjoining parking structure where Defendant and agents had parked their cars. Defendant was searched after he was placed in handcuffs.

Special Agent Itnyre testified that she requested to search Defendant's car, the keys having been found on next to Defendant's person during arrest. Defendant refused, telling the agent to "get a warrant," and requested that the agents release his car to Sharon-Mae Nishimura ("Nishimura"), who was staying with him at the hotel in room 2420. Defendant wanted his car removed from the premises and asked the agents to deliver the car keys to Nishimura in the hotel room. Special Agent Itnyre testified that in addition to Defendant's statement that Nishimura was in the hotel room, she had also received information confirming Nishimura presence.

Five agents, lead by Special Agent Itnyre, returned to the hotel with Defendant's car keys intending to contact Nishimura. Two agents remained with Defendant in the parking structure. The instant Motion concerns several pieces of evidence agents found in room 2420 and believed to be related to Defendant's alleged sex trafficking enterprise.

On May 20, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Defendant and co-defendant Nishimura. (Doc. #1.) On September 23, 2009, the Government filed a superseding indictment charging Defendant with 13 counts including: (Counts 1-4, 9-10) sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a), (b); (Counts 5-6) sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a), (b) and 1594(a) and 2; (Counts 7-8) sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a), (b); (Counts 11-12) sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(2), 1591(b)(2), and 3559(e); and (Count 13) conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591. (Doc. # 35.) On September 30, 2009, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty. (Doc. # 44.)

On December 21, 2009, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements. (Doc. # 52.) On January 14, 2010, the Government filed a second superseding indictment charging defendant with Counts 1-4 and 7-12, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591, Counts 5-6, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1594, 1591; and Count 13, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. (Doc. #64.) On January 15, 2010, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty. (Doc. # 70.) On January 25, 2010, the Government filed a Response to Defendant's motion. ("Resp.," Doc. #83.) On January 29, 2010, Defendant filed a Reply. (Doc. # 90.)


Defendant moves to suppress evidence obtained inside room 2420 where Defendant had stayed prior to his arrest. In support, Defendant argues that at the time of this search, he retained a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room, Government agents lacked a warrant, and no exceptions to the warrant requirement applied. (Mot. at 1-2.) Defendant further argues that his statements to Government agents should be suppressed because they were involuntary and coercively obtained. (Id. at 2) Additionally, Defendant moves to suppress evidence obtained from a search of a laptop computer, three thumb drives, and a memory stick because the Government agents' warrant to search these items was allegedly made ineffective because the search failed to comport with the Fourth Amendment. (Id.)

I. Entry and Search of the Hotel Room

Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, all state-initiated searches and seizures must be reasonable and must generally require a warrant in order to be valid. United States v. Hawkins, 249 F.3d 867, 872 (9th Cir.2001). The Fourth Amendment ensures:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

U.S. Const. amend. IV. However, there are several established exceptions to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Hawkins, 249 F.3d at 872. The burden of proof rests on the government to justify a search under one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. Id. If the government fails to meet this burden, the exclusionary rule generally prohibits the introduction of the evidence at trial. See Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 221-22, 80 S.Ct. 1437, 4 L.Ed.2d 1669 (1960). Illegally obtained evidence and all evidence derived from the illegally seized evidence must be excluded. Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 484-85, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963); United States v. Patzer, 277 F.3d 1080, 1086 (9th Cir.2002).

A. Defendant's Expectation of Privacy in the Hotel Room

To show the Government has violated his Fourth Amendment rights, an individual must have "a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place." United States v. Crawford, 323 F.3d 700, 706 (quotation marks and citations omitted). It is the defendant's burden to establish that he has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place searched. See United States v. Bautista, 362 F.3d 584, 589 (9th Cir.2004). It is the government's burden to establish that a warrantless search of a place in which a defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy was reasonable. See United States v. Carbajal, 956 F.2d 924, 930 (9th Cir.1992). In order to show a legitimate expectation of privacy, a defendant must demonstrate, under the totality of the circumstances, "a subjective expectation of privacy in the area searched, and their expectation must be one that society would recognize as objectively reasonable." United States v. Sarkisian, 197 F.3d 966, 986 (9th Cir. 1999).

Fourth Amendment protection extends to such places as hotel or motel rooms. Bautista, 362 F.3d at 589 (citing United States v. Cormier, 220 F.3d 1103, 1108-1109 (9th Cir.2000)). With regard to a rented hotel room, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that "part of what a person purchases when he leases a hotel room is privacy for one's person and one's things." United States v. Young, 573 F.3d 711, 716 (9th Cir.2009) (citing United States v. Dorais, 241 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir.2001)). A hotel guest's reasonable expectation of privacy may be extinguished by either the expiration of the rental period or by its lawful termination, i.e., justified eviction. See Bautista, 362 F.3d at 589-90 ("Unless a hotel guest's occupancy has been lawfully terminated when the police conducted their search, the guest retains a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room.") (citation omitted). In Young, the Ninth Circuit clarified that the arrest of a hotel guest alone does not lawfully terminate the rental period or otherwise extinguish the guest's reasonable expectation of privacy in his hotel room. Young, 573 F.3d at 716 ("Being arrested is different from being evicted, and being arrested does not automatically destroy that person's reasonable expectation of privacy in his home."). The parties do not dispute that Defendant intended to check-out of the hotel on May 10, 2008, the day after his arrest.

When Special Agent Itnyre and the other four agents returned to the hotel in order to provide Nishimura with Defendant's car keys, Special Agent Itnyre was met by Tama Sauta ("Sauta"), the hotel's night shift Supervisor of Security. Sauta testified that a previous security guard on duty had witnessed Defendant's arrest and relayed this information to Sauta along with Defendant's room information and the fact that Defendant was now in FBI custody in the parking garage. Sauta informed Special Agent Itnyre that it was hotel policy to immediately evict any hotel guest physically arrested by law enforcement and that Defendant was evicted automatically due to his arrest. Sauta further testified that as per policy, Defendant had...

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