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United States v. White

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 25, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JASON L. WHITE, Defendant-Appellant

Argued: July 8, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:12-cr-30022-DRH-1 -- David R. Herndon, Judge.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Stephen B. Clark, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Criminal Division, Fairview Heights, IL.

For JASON L. WHITE, Defendant - Appellant: Terry M. Green, Attorney, West Frankfort, IL.

JASON L. WHITE, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Terre Haute, IN.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and BAUER and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 859

Hamilton, Circuit Judge.

While defendant-appellant Jason White was on parole from an Illinois state prison sentence, police suspected that he was involved in a shooting and had a warrant to arrest him. Before the police found White, they located his gym bag that he had left in his cousin's car. Without a search warrant, but relying on a condition of his parole that required White to agree to searches of his property, the police opened the bag and found a gun. White was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He moved to suppress evidence of the gun on the ground that neither he nor his cousin had consented to the search of the bag. The district court denied his motion, and White challenges that decision on appeal. We affirm. The search of the property of a suspected parole violator who had agreed in writing to consent to property searches and whom the police could not locate was reasonable.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

The Illinois Department of Corrections issued a warrant on March 29, 2011 to arrest White for violating his parole. The warrant was based on two discoveries. First, one of two victims from a shooting a week earlier had identified White as the shooter. Second, earlier that month a parole officer had found in White's bedroom the packaging for a Glock .40 caliber magazine. Two days after the warrant was issued, the police received a tip that White was driving a green sport utility vehicle.

That tip led the officers to the home of White's cousin, Tawana Williams. They knew she drove such a car. Williams told the police that she and White had been together earlier that day and that White had placed his gym bag in her car. The police searched White's bag and found a .40 caliber Glock handgun loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition. White was later arrested and charged with possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

White moved to suppress the evidence seized from his gym bag in his cousin's car, arguing that the warrantless search of his bag violated the Fourth Amendment. He argued that, even though he was a parolee and had left his bag with Williams, he enjoyed a legitimate expectation of privacy in the contents of his bag and that Williams had neither actual nor apparent authority to consent to the bag's search. The government countered that White's status as a parolee extinguished any expectation of privacy. It explained that when White began his term of supervisory release from an Illinois prison (where he served a sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm), he agreed in writing as a condition of release: " You shall consent to a search of your person, property, or residence under your control." The government also argued that the search was valid because the police suspected White of a shooting, feared he was dangerous, and were in hot pursuit to arrest him.

In a hearing on the motion to suppress, the parties disputed whether White's cousin Williams had actually consented to the search of the bag. She testified that the morning of the search, she had met briefly with White and he asked her to store his bag in her car. White did not tell her what was inside the bag, nor did she ...


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