February 1, 2010

Colorado Supreme Court 2-1-10

People v. Minor        Consent to Search  / Scope of Search Pursuant to Consent
            Mr. Minor drove the car that the police stopped, while the owner of the car rode shotgun with another passenger in the back. Police claim some minor traffic violation to justify the stop. Upon stopping the car, one cop talks to the driver, the second cop searches the car and starts talking to the passengers. Second cop claims to see some baggie on the floor. Based upon this, the cop sought consent to search. Although contested, the trial court found Mr. Minor voluntarily consented. Cops rifle through everything in the car, including the trunk and a backpack in the trunk.
The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the suppression order, and held:
1)      The driver, while not the owner, possesses the authority to consent to a search;
2)      If the consent is general, the scope of that consent extends to the trunk of the car
3)      If the consent is general, the scope of that consent extends to any personal effects in the trunk, in this case, a backpack (as long as nothing is destroyed during the search)

People v. Crippen     Search Warrants / Staleness
In an embezzlement / white-collar crime case, the trial court granted the suppression order because the warrant was both stale and lacked probable cause. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed. The Court held:
Although the affidavit in this case was hardly a model to be emulated, failing as it did to identify the person conducting the audit, specify the timing and circumstances of its commission or attach a copy of the audit in question, under the unique circumstances presented here, the reliability of the information contained in the affidavit was nevertheless discernible from its nature and detail alone.
Further, the Court held the two-year span between  the audit, which disclosed the alleged illegality, and the execution of the warrant did not render the warrant stale in an embezzlement case.

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