USA. v. Dorais, 99-10091

Decision Date01 March 2001
Docket NumberNo. 99-10091,No. 99-10267,99-10091,99-10267
Citation241 F.3d 1124
Parties(9th Cir. 2001) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DENIS DORAIS, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. LAURIE GOMES, Defendant-Appellant
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Karyn H. Bucur, Laguna Hills, California; Edmundo Espinoza, Del Mar, California, for the defendants-appellants.

Kenneth Sorenson and Larry L. Butrick, Assistant United States Attorneys, Honolulu, Hawaii, for the plaintiff-appellee.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii Helen Gillmor, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No.CR-98-00485-HG D.C. No. CR-98-00485-HG

Before: Joseph T. Sneed, Susan P. Graber, and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Graber

OPINION

GRABER, Circuit Judge:

Defendants Denis Dorais and Laurie Gomes became the focus of a police drug investigation after a hotel manager reported suspicious activities in their room at the New Otani Hotel. Police eventually arrested Gomes for drug possession after they stopped her because of a rental agency's report that her rental car was overdue. During the stop, Gomes consented to a search of her purse, which yielded methamphetamine, and made incriminating statements about Dorais. Later, police arrested Dorais when they found methamphetamine in Defendants' hotel room while they were helping the hotel manager evict him.

In their joint motion to suppress, Defendants sought to suppress evidence of the methamphetamine in Gomes' purse; Gomes' incriminating statements about Dorais, made during the stop; the methamphetamine in the hotel room; and statements made by Dorais in the hotel room. They argued that (1) the police had neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to stop the car and Gomes' consent and statements were a product of the illegal stop;1 and (2) the warrantless search of the hotel room violated the Fourth Amendment.

The district court denied Defendants' motion to suppress. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A. The Hotel

Gomes checked into the New Otani Hotel on July 1, 1998. She informed the hotel that two men, Dorais and another, would be staying in her room; completed a registration card that included Dorais' name; registered two vehicles to the room; and paid $1,400 in cash to cover the cost of the room through July 5, 1998. The hotel assigned her to room 610.

At some point, Gomes and Dorais decided to extend their stay.2 Because room 610 was not available for the night of July 5, the hotel reassigned Dorais and Gomes to room 421. At first they resisted the move but, after repeated requests by the hotel, they relocated to room 421 at 2:30 p.m. on July 5. After the move, the hotel asked Dorais several times to come to the front desk to sign a new registration card, but Dorais never signed the card.

On July 6, 1998, Curtis Kawamoto, the evening manager, contacted acquaintances of his who worked for the Hawaii Police at the airport. Kawamoto expressed concern about "suspicious actions" that had been occurring in room 610. As a result, the police ran a background check on Dorais and Gomes. In response to Kawamoto's report, Officer Yamamoto contacted Glen Manaba, the assistant front-office manager and security manager of the New Otani Hotel, on the morning of July 7, 1998. The two agreed to meet to discuss Kawamoto's report. Manaba requested a background check on the guests who were now in room 421; Yamamoto informed him that he had already run a check and that Gomes was the only guest with a criminal record. Yamamoto told Manaba to call if he noticed suspicious conduct by the occupants of room 421 but did not inform the hotel manager that the guests already were the subjects of a drug investigation.

At some point on July 7, the hotel decided that it would not permit Gomes and Dorais to extend their stay past July 8. There is no evidence in the record that the guests requested an extension; likewise, there is no evidence in the record that the hotel informed them of its decision. On the morning of July 8, Yamamoto contacted Manaba to find out if Dorais and Gomes had checked out and to request permission to search the room after they checked out. He also told Manaba that he would be parked outside the hotel, in case the hotel required his assistance.

At 10 a.m. on July 8, the hotel left a message on the voicemail in room 421, reminding the guests of the noon checkout time. Gomes left the hotel before noon. Dorais remained. Shortly after noon, the executive housekeeper knocked on the door of room 421 to inquire when Dorais would be checking out. Dorais told her that he intended to stay until 12:30. Thehousekeeper told Dorais "OK" and said that she would tell the front desk. She could not remember whether she reported to the front desk Dorais' intent to stay until 12:30.

Around noon, Manaba spoke with the Hawaii Police officers, who entered the hotel to inquire whether the occupants of room 421 had checked out yet. Manaba informed them that the guests remained in the room, and he told the officers that he wished to evict them if they stayed past checkout time. One of the officers contacted his supervisor to arrange for permission to proceed with the investigation of the room and to assist the hotel in the eviction. At about 12:40, Manaba and six officers went to room 421 to evict Dorais. Manaba knocked on the door and told Dorais that he was there to evict him. When Dorais opened the door, one of the officers identified himself and told Dorais that the police would assist in the eviction. The police entered the room and saw a substance on the coffee table that resembled methamphetamine. At that point, the police arrested Dorais and conducted a pat-down search incident to arrest. The search yielded a baggie containing a substance resembling crystal methamphetamine. The police then obtained a search warrant to search the closed boxes and envelopes that they found in the room and on Dorais.

B. The Car

At 8:23 p.m. on July 4, 1998, Defendant Gomes rented a car from Dollar Rent-a-Car. The car was due back at the same time two days later. On July 6, after the hotel had contacted the police to express concern about Dorais' and Gomes' activities, Yamamoto called Dollar to inquire about the car rental. He asked when the car was due back and asked the rental agency to contact him when Gomes returned it.

As of July 8, Gomes had not returned the car. See Haw. Rev. Stat. S 708-836 (providing a 48-hour grace period before a rental car is considered stolen). Dollar tried without success to contact her. When it could not reach her, it notified the police at 10 a.m. that the car was overdue. The manager of Dollar testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress that it was an oversight on the part of Dollar that it contacted the police before a full 48 hours had elapsed.

Based on the complaint from Dollar, Officer Yamamoto stopped Gomes between 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. on July 8.3 Gomes signed a consent to search her purse, after stating that there were drugs in it that "Deni" had given her. The search yielded crystal methamphetamine.

Dorais filed the motion to suppress that is the subject of this appeal, and Gomes later joined in it. The district court held a three-day evidentiary hearing, after which it denied the motion to suppress.

Thereafter, Dorais and Gomes conditionally pleaded guilty to possessing more than 100 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C.S 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. S 2. Both Defendants reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of their motion to suppress. After being sentenced, they timely filed their notices of appeal.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo the denial of a motion to suppress. United States v. Henderson, No. 99-10526, 2000 WL 1804068, *6 (9th Cir. Dec. 11, 2000). Whether a defendant has standing to challenge a search under the Fourth Amendment is a mixed question of law and fact. United States v. Armenta, 69 F.3d 304, 306-07 (9th Cir. 1995). We review the district court's legal conclusions de novo and its factual findings for clear error. Id. at 307.

DISCUSSION
A. Standing to Challenge the Police Entry into the Hotel Room

The district court held that Defendants lacked standing to challenge as a search the police entry into the hotel room because neither had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room. The court reasoned that (1) Gomes had no privacy interest in the room because she had checked out of the hotel before the search took place, and (2) Dorais' privacy interest expired at checkout time, which was noon on July 8, 1998, also before the entry. The court's reasoning and conclusion are correct with respect to Gomes. United States v. Haddad, 558 F.2d 968 (9th Cir. 1977) (holding that a guest has no expectation of privacy in a hotel room after checking out, whether voluntarily or involuntarily). As to Dorais, we affirm on different grounds the ruling that Dorais had no reasonable expectation of privacy in room 421 at 12:40 p.m.

1. General Principles

In order to have standing to challenge the search of a hotel room under the Fourth Amendment, a defendant must establish a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room. Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91, 95 (1990)."A subjective expectation of privacy is legitimate if it is one that society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable'." Id . at 95-96 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

This court has held that a defendant has no reasonable expectation of privacy in a hotel room when the rental period has expired and the hotel has taken affirmative steps to repossess the room. United States v. Huffhines, 967 F.2d 314 (9th Cir. 1992). On the other hand, this court has concluded that the lessee of a rental car maintains a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car after the...

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