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State v. Snow

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-29-2011
Case #: A143066
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J. & Rosenblum, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A143066.pdf

Criminal Procedure: A county courthouse security checkpoint search is an unreasonable administrative search if the authority for that search gives broad latitude to the searching officer in deciding who is to be searched and how intrusive the search is.

Defendant entered the Jackson County Courthouse and was subjected to a routine security checkpoint inspection. The checkpoint security officer noticed a container in the defendant’s pocket and asked him to place the container in a bowl to be x-rayed. Before the container could be x-rayed, the security officer opened the container and found methamphetamine inside. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence claiming it resulted from an unlawful search. The state sought to justify the search as a lawful administrative search. The Court of Appeals determined that the search was not a reasonable administrative search since it failed to meet a necessary requirement, particularly, that the policy did not limit the discretion of those conducting the search. The Court reasoned that the policy for the administrative search granted wide latitude to an officer to decide both who to search and the scope of the search. The policy thus failed to limit the discretion of those conducting a search under its authority. Reversed and remanded.