FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE [Hon. Jon D. Levy, U.S. District Judge]
Benjamin M. Block, Assistant United States Attorney, with
whom Richard W. Murphy, Acting United States Attorney,
Margaret D. McGaughey, Assistant United States Attorney were
on brief, for appellant.
Shevitz for appellee.
Lynch, Stahl and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
criminal appeal, we must decide whether the Defendant,
Marquis Aiken ("Aiken"), had a reasonable
expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in the
motel room where he was at the time of a police search of the
premises. The district court ruled in Aiken's favor. The
government timely filed this appeal. After careful review, we
reverse and remand.
November 7, 2014, two state troopers and members of the Maine
Drug Enforcement Agency ("MDEA") received a tip
that individuals who were in room 216 at the Super 8 Motel in
Lewiston, Maine had with them large bags containing crack,
cocaine or heroin. The Super 8 Motel was known to the agents
as a common stopover for out-of-state gun and drug
approximately 9:00 AM, MDEA agents began knocking on the door
to room 216. Although no one from room 216 responded to their
repeated knocks, an unidentified man partially opened the
door to room 218. Although room 218 smelled of marijuana, the
agents informed the man that they were not there for
minute or two, the door to room 218 opened again. A man
subsequently identified as Joshua Bonnett
("Bonnett") stood by the door and Aiken stood five
to ten feet behind him. Aiken was barefoot and only wearing
shorts. The agents noticed "one particular bed look[ed]
like the sheets and the comforters were pulled back and the
other one liked [sic] like it had just been made." One
of the agents recognized Aiken from a relatively recent
heroin trafficking arrest. Aiken's presence raised suspicions
that "there was possibly more going on inside that room
agents asked both men to step out of the room. When neither
man exited the room, the agents entered, conducted a security
sweep and observed what appeared to be a bag containing
marijuana on one of the beds and a digital scale dusted with
white powder on a nightstand between the two beds. One of the
agents opened the top drawer of the nightstand and discovered
a bag containing one-quarter to one-half kilogram of a
substance that appeared to contain cocaine base.
agents subsequently obtained a search warrant, and as a
result of the evidence seized in the search, the government
charged Aiken and Bonnett with possession with intent to
distribute a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and aiding and
abetting such conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Aiken and Bonnett filed motions to suppress all evidence
seized as a result of the search. Originally, the magistrate
judge heard the evidence and determined that neither Bonnett
nor Aiken could challenge the search of the motel room. On de
novo review, without hearing any new evidence, the district
court reversed the magistrate's decision. The district
court found that both Defendants had a reasonable expectation
of privacy in the motel room and could contest the search as
a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.
district court determined that Jahrael Browne
("Browne") had rented room 218 at the Super 8 Motel
with another person, Bonnett, and that Aiken stayed in the
room with Bonnett. The district court explained that
"Bonnet was Browne's traveling companion from
Massachusetts to Maine" and Browne rented the room
accompanied by another person who appeared from a video to be
Bonnett. The motel registration reflected two persons staying
in the room; however, only Browne's name was included on
the registration form. In addition to Bonnett and Browne
traveling together, Browne's license was found in the
motel room, "further suggesting a connection between
Browne and Bonnett." Bonnett was also in possession of
the room key at the time the agents entered the room. At 9:00
AM, the appearance of the room and the occupants "were
consistent with two occupants -- Bonnett and Aiken -- having
slept in the room and, therefore, having occupied the room
for more than a brief period." Post-arrest statements
made by Aiken to his mother "confirm that the room was
Bonnett's room and that Aiken stayed there with
that both Bonnett and Aiken could challenge the search, the
court ruled that the search violated the Fourth Amendment and
granted Aiken and Bonnett's motions to suppress. The
government appealed the district court's decision as to
Aiken's expectation of privacy.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review the district court's findings of fact for clear
error and its conclusions of law de novo. See United
States v. Carty, 993 F.2d 1005, 1008 (1st Cir. 1993).
Fourth Amendment provides "[t]he right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const.
amend. IV. "To prevail on a claim that a search or
seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, a defendant must show
as a threshold matter that he had a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the place or item searched."
United States v. Battle, 637 F.3d 44, 48 (1st Cir.
2011)(emphasis added)(citing Minnesota v. Olson, 495
U.S. 91, 95 (1990)). "The burden of proving a reasonable
expectation of privacy lies with the defendant."
United States v. Mancini, 8 F.3d 104, 107 (1st Cir.
1993). "In order to make such a demonstration, the
defendant must show both a subjective expectation of privacy
and that society accepts that expectation as objectively
determining that Aiken had a reasonable expectation of
privacy in the motel room, the district court first
determined that Bonnett was a guest in the room with Browne.
From there, the court inferred that Aiken was an invited
guest of Bonnett. On appeal, the government argues that the
district court erroneously found that Aiken was a guest of
Bonnett and further contends that Aiken did not demonstrate
that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room.
We address the two issues in turn.
Aiken's Guest Status
extent the district court found that Aiken was a guest
because Bonnet invited Aiken into the room, the district
court did not clearly err. Aiken was in the motel room along
with Bonnett when the agents conducted the search. Based on
the appearance of the two beds in the motel room and
Aiken's state of undress at 9:00 AM, the district court
concluded that Aiken "slept in the room" for
"more than a brief period." It was not improper for
the court to draw the inference that Bonnett had invited
Aiken into the room.
pause here to emphasize that we use the term guest in
accordance with the district court's finding, made
entirely by inferences, without direct evidence showing that
Bonnett invited Aiken into the motel room. In fact,
Bonnett's affidavit, which he provided to the court in
support of his motion to suppress, did not even mention
Aiken. It would be inappropriate for this Court to make any
other inferences to support Aiken's reasonable
expectation of privacy, in light of the fact that he came
forward with no evidence on a motion that he had the burden
to carry. As such, the term guest, at least in this case,
does not carry with it any Fourth Amendment protection unless
and until the defendant has satisfied his burden of proving a
reasonable expectation of privacy. See Mancini, 8
F.3d at 107.
invitation to be present in a location does not automatically
confer Fourth Amendment privacy protection. See Rakas v.
Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 148, (1978)("[T]he fact
that they were legitimately on [the] premises . . . is not
determinative of whether they had a legitimate expectation of
privacy.")(alteration in original)(internal citations
omitted); see also United States v. Irizarry, 673
F.2d 554, 556 (1st Cir. 1982)("The hotel room here was
registered to [Defendant 1 but Defendant 2], however, offered
no evidence of any personal interest in the room beyond his
being 'merely present.'"). Aiken's guest
of a guest status does not resolve the question of whether he
had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room.
Therefore, we turn to the government's second argument.
Aiken's Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
finding that Aiken had a reasonable expectation of privacy,
such that he could challenge the search of the motel room,
the district court found that Aiken was a guest who spent
more than a brief period of time in the room. On appeal,
however, the government challenges whether Aiken met his
burden. Although the district court did not clearly err in
finding that Aiken was Bonnett's "guest" --
that is, Aiken was invited by Bonnett to sleep in the motel
room for "more than a brief period, " it
incorrectly inferred that Aiken had an objectively reasonable
expectation of privacy based on these facts alone.
previously mentioned, the burden is on the defendant to show
that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area
searched. Mancini, 8 F.3d at 107. Here, rather than
testify or put on any evidence, Aiken relied on the
government's evidence to satisfy his burden. On appeal,
Aiken argues that as a guest who slept in the room, he
"had an actual, subjective expectation of privacy . . .
that was objectively reasonable." This, argues Aiken, is
enough to meet his burden. We do not agree.
Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83 (1998), the Supreme
Court considered whether an individual who was legitimately
on the premise for the purpose of bagging cocaine had an
expectation of privacy in an apartment. Despite the
permission and presence of the apartment's occupant, the
Court found that "the purely commercial nature of the
transaction . . . the relatively short time on the premises,
and the lack of any previous connection between respondents
and the householder, " resulted in a lack of Fourth
Amendment protection. Id. at 91. Therefore, it is
appropriate for us to consider the (1) the nature of the
defendant's visit, (2) his length of stay, and (3) his
relationship to the host in analyzing a defendant's
reasonable expectation of privacy.
Carter, the evidence before the district court
supports that Aiken was in the room for business purposes,
specifically drug trafficking. One of the agents who executed
the search testified that Aiken's presence in the room
made him wary that the men were engaged in drug trafficking.
A scale was on display and looked as if it had been recently
used and the motel was known to the agents as a location
commonly used by drug traffickers. Aiken provided no evidence
to support that his visit was for non-business purposes.
Aiken's length of stay, the district court found that
Aiken slept in the room and was present for "more than a
brief period, " however, the district court made no
factual findings as to the amount of time Aiken spent in the
room. All that the evidence showed was that Aiken was present
in the room for less time than Bonnett because the video
evidence depicted only two men checking into the motel and
the district court concluded one of those men was Browne, to
whom the room was registered, ...