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United States v. Redmon

June 27, 1997

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOSEPH R. REDMON,

DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division.

No. 96-CR-20013 Harold A. Baker, Judge.

Before BAUER, HARLINGTON WOOD, JR., and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

HARLINGTON WOOD, JR., Circuit Judge.

ARGUED FEBRUARY 27, 1997

DECIDED JUNE 27, 1997

The defendant, Joseph Redmon, deposited his trust and his cocaine accessories in his garbage cans. That was a mistake. The police got to his garbage cans before the garbage collectors. A subsequent search of Redmon's house under a search warrant issued on the basis of that garbage can evidence produced 415 grams of cocaine.

Redmon was indicted for possession of over 400 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec.841(a)(1). After failing in his effort to quash the search warrant and to suppress the evidence, he entered a conditional guilty plea reserving the right to appeal that decision. He does that now and also raises a sentencing issue. *fn1

Redmon's defense is that he had an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of his garbage cans. He argues that the warrantless search of those garbage cans led to the search warrant for his house and therefore violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The district court thought otherwise, and so do we.

I. The Garbage Cans

Although the facts and circumstances of the garbage can searches are not disputed, they nevertheless must be examined. Redmon's two-story townhouse was situated at the end of a row of eight adjoining townhouses on the corner of two intersecting public streets in Urbana, Illinois. Redmon's front door, without a porch, faced east toward one street. It could be accessed only by a narrow walk extending from the front door around the corner of the townhouse to the connected garage and driveway. The garage faced north on a different public street. Redmon and his neighbor shared the common driveway which jointly served their double-garage structure. The driveway was twenty-five feet wide and extended about twenty-three feet to and across a public sidewalk, and then about another ten feet to the public street. The width of the driveway exceeded the distance from the garage to the public sidewalk. The garbage cans were located just outside the garage, on the common driveway, about half way between the garage doors. Redmon used one side of the garage and his neighbor the other. There were no yard fences or gates.

II. Analysis of the Search

In arguing that he had an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in his garbage cans, Redmon claims the cans were within the curtilage of his house. He relies on our case, United States v. Hedrick, 922 F.2d 396, 399 (7th Cir. 1991), which stated that "garbage cans located twenty feet from the garage and approximately fifty feet from the back door of the house were technically within the curtilage of the house, in which privacy expectations are most heightened." In Hedrick, however, after analyzing California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988), and various other cases, this court found no constitutional privacy under its particular facts. 922 F.2d at 399.

Moreover, Hedrick does not establish that Redmon's garbage cans were within the curtilage. Relying on California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 212 (1986), the Hedrick court defined the curtilage as being an area intimately associated with the sanctity of the home and the privacy of life, both physically and psychologically, and an area where privacy expectations are most heightened. 922 F.2d at 398. The Hedrick court further noted that cases following Ciraolo recognized that the yard of a residential home is within the curtilage. Id. at 399. Thus, although the Hedrick garbage cans were located at the side of the driveway about half way between the sidewalk and the garage, the court considered them to be within the curtilage of the house. Id. However, as the government points out, in United States v. Shanks, 97 F.3d 977, 979 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 116 S. Ct. 1002 (1997), this court also found that garbage cans placed next to a detached garage and only twenty feet from the residence, but also close to the alley, were outside the curtilage with no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The district court in the present case did not make a finding about whether or not Redmon's garbage cans were within the curtilage. However, in the present case the garbage cans were just outside the garage, but close to and visible from the public streets and the sidewalks. Thus, Redmon's garbage cans, based on the record evidence, do not appear to us to have been within the curtilage, remembering curtilage is defined as an area intimately associated with the sanctity of the house and the privacies of life. In any event, under our cases Hedrick and Shanks, a curtilage finding is not controlling. Shanks, 97 F.3d at 979; Hedrick, 922 F.2d at 400. Other factors can ...


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