One has no standing to complain of search of “abandoned” property. U.S. v. Canady, 615 F.2d 694 (5th Cir. 1980) [disclaimed ownership of suitcase at airport security checkpoint]; U.S. v. Lara, 638 F.2d 892 (5th Cir. 1981); U.S. v. Williams, 569 F.2d 823, 826 (5th Cir. 1978); U.S. v. Santa-Manriquez, 603 F.2d 575, 578 (5th Cir. 1979); U.S. v. Barker, 557 F.2d 628, 632-33 (8th Cir. 1977); People v. Howard, 430 N.Y.S.2d 578, 585-86 (N.Y.App. 1980); U.S. v. Colbert, 474 F.2d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1973).
“One has no standing to complain of a search or seizure of property he has voluntarily abandoned… The issue is not abandonment in the strict property-right sense, but whether the person prejudiced by the search had voluntarily discarded …or otherwise relinquished his interest in the property in question so that he could no longer retain a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to it at the time of the search.”
U.S. Colbert, 474 F.2d at 176.
However, where abandonment of property is “caused” by an illegal stop or arrest, same is “tainted” by same and should be excluded. U.S. v. Beck, 602 F.2d 726, 730 (5th Cir. 1979).
“In this case, it seems clear that the contraband was abandoned because of the illegal stop of the Chevrolet…it would be sheer fiction to presume they were caused by anything other than the illegal stop… Here because there was ‘a nexus between …lawless [police] conduct and the discovery of the challenged evidence which has not become so attenuated as to dissipate the taint, …the evidence should be suppressed.” U.S. v. Beck, 602 F.2d at 730.
FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE (AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE LEGITIMATE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY REQUIREMENT)
Likewise, if the search of allegedly abandoned property is prompted by the results of police illegality, then same must be excluded, not because it wasn’t abandoned but because it came about by exploitation of unlawful police conduct. See U.S. v. Jones, 619 F.2d 494 (5th Cir. 1980) [a product of defendant’s illegal arrest and search where several bullets which “naturally caused [the officers] to believe a gun may have been discarded during [the defendant’s] flight”. Accordingly, they “searched the surrounding area for five to ten minutes and found [a] pistol at the edge of the wooded area just off the path along which Jones had fled”. The Court held “[t]he discovery of the pistol was the product of the illegal search”].
While the government contended “that Jones lacked standing to challenge the admissibility of the pistol since he abandoned it during his flight,” the Court held such argument “misplaces the proper focus of our analysis. Our concern is not whether Jones abandoned the pistol. It is, instead, whether the discovery of the pistol was brought about by unlawful police conduct.”
“In this case, it seems clear that the contraband was abandoned because of the illegal stop of the Chevrolet …it would be sheer fiction to presume they were caused by anything other than the illegal stop… Here because there was ‘a nexus between …lawless [police] conduct and the discovery of the challenged evidence which has not become so attenuated as to dissipate the taint, …the evidence should be suppressed.” U.S. v. Beck, 602 F.2d at 730.
See also U.S. v. Santia-Manriguez, 603 F.2d 575, 578 (5th Cir. 1979); U.S. v. Barker, 557 F.2d 628, 632-33 (8th Cir. 1977); Lawrence v. Henderson, 478 F.2d 705, 708 (5th Cir. 1973).
“If it is assumed that Lawrence possessed the narcotics paraphernalia at one time, the facts make clear that the illegal arrest prompted him to conceal it in the vehicle. Under the circumstances it cannot be said that Lawrence voluntarily abandoned the ‘outfit'”. Lawrence v. Henderson, 478 F.2d at 708.
U.S. v. Richards, 638 F.2d 765 (5th Cir. 1981) [a defendant who denied ownership of package, still had standing when asserting that he was acting on behalf of another].
EXPLICIT LABEL ON CONTAINER DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ABANDONMENT OF PRIVACY EXPECTATION
Explicit labeling of containers [“repositories of personal effects”] may be a factor, but it does not necessarily diminish one’s reasonable expectation that sealed cartons will not be opened [especially where exposure of such label is the result of non- governmental, third party’s action].
Walter v. U.S., 447 U.S. 649, 100 S.Ct. 2395, 65 L.Ed.2d 410 (1980) [sealed crates “on one side of which were suggestive drawings, and on the other were explicit descriptions of the contents”].
“…[O]ne may not deem petitioners to have consented to the screening merely because the labels on the unexposed boxes were explicit.” Walter v. U.S., 447 U.S. at 658.
SINGLE PURPOSE CONTAINERS
Some containers, although opaque, “by their very nature cannot support any reasonable expectation of privacy because their contents can be inferred from their outward appearance.” Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 753, 764-65 n.13 (1979), abrogated by California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565 (1982). Plain view and “immediately apparent” item in “plain view” is evidence of crime.
NO NEED TO MAKE CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP
An individual’s failure to make an immediate claim of ownership or possessory interest in the searched containers cannot “be fairly regarded as an abandonment of their interest in preserving the privacy of the shipment” since “such a request could reasonably be expected to precipitate criminal proceedings”. Walter v. U.S., 447 U.S. 649, 100 S.Ct. 2395, 65 L.Ed.2d 410 (1980).
“We cannot equate an unwillingness to invite a criminal prosecution with a voluntary abandonment of any interest in the contents of the cartons.” Walter v. U.S., 447 U.S. at 658.
At the suppression hearing, however, it is incumbent upon the accused to assert underlying facts establishing reasonable expectation of privacy in the place or thing searched. U.S. v. Hilton, 619 F.2d 127, 133 (1st Cir. 1980).
“[D]efendants [on board of vessel] have no standing to contest the search of the briefcase, the camera, and the film canisters seized aboard the Southern Belle since none of the defendants, either at the time of the seizure or at the suppression hearing, asserted any proprietary or possessory interest in the items seized.”
U.S. v. Hilton, 619 F.2d at 133.