SailorsAllen Law

My Purse, You Can’t Look Inside

The week of December 4, 2017, brought us some ruckus in the MN Supreme Court.   But before I get to that, I want to address last week.   There was not a blog written.  I received a throng (not like Sisqo) of questions why.  Actually, my mom just wanted to know if I was still alive.   I did not compose a blog because I was writing my own brief for the Court of Appeals that was due on Friday.  I will not comment on pending litigation, but I will break it down when the Court of Appeals makes their decision.   However, in the meantime, I can write about the ongoings of the MN Supreme Court.  They released two cases this week.  The first was an ineffective assistance of counsel case.  Which people do love.  A lawyer messes up and people want to spike their faux leather briefcase down in their face.   First-Degree murder case where the lawyer said this:

First-degree murder requires premeditation and the intent to kill. … We’re not really disputing the premeditation part. I would submit to you that intent element is the one that’s in question here.”

You can’t concede any elements with the express consent of the client so this guy gets a new trial.  The second case was about a search of purses.  We have all been there before.  We set our purse down while visiting a friend to check out some Ducktales and the police show up to execute a search warrant on the house.  The police search your purse and they find that you are holding.   You get charged with a crime basically for watching Ducktales.   This lady who just wanted to watch Scrooge McDuck dive into a giant pile of money challenged the search.  Beyond the scope of the search warrant.  She lost at the district and appellate court level and the MN Supreme Court decided to review it.

A search that exceeds the scope of a warrant is unconstitutional. Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 140 (1990). A warrant, however, does not authorize the police to search the body and outer clothing of persons who are not named in the warrant. See Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 91 (1979).(holding that a search warrant authorizing the search of a tavern and a bartender did not authorize police to search customers at the tavern when the warrant was executed); see also State v. Wynne, 552 N.W.2d 218, 220 (Minn. 1996) (recognizing that a purse carried by a person is protected from search under a premises warrant because it is an extension of the person).

So you can’t search not named in the search warrant people for watching Ducktales during a search warrant.  You can’t search those same peoples’  purse while they are watching Ducktales, but only if they are holding their purse.  Here the purse was just chilling.  So they applied a totality of the circumstances test.  The totality of the circumstances should be a reality of the bureaucrats because purse lady loses.   Here, they were looking for drugs at a woman’s house.  Who carries purses?  European guys and women.   You can hide drugs in a purse and they were looking drugs.  Second, the purse was left unattended, they thought it belonged to someone named Michael Kors.   They lose.

Here is the lesson.  When you are watching Ducktales and the police bust in, your purse is on the kitchen table and you don’t want them rifling through it to find evidence of a crime like shoplifting at Walmart, grab that damn purse.  Hold on tight and tell them it is beyond the scope of the warrant.  Then get back to the shenanigans of Huey, Duey, and Louie.