DATE: December 3, 2005
RE: Office Memo on David Harrison’s Plain View Doctrine Case
On July 30, 2004, the home of David Harrison was searched by two federal officers pursuant to a valid search warrant regarding his son, Joseph Harrison. The officers explained to Mr. Harrison that they had information linking Joseph, who also lives at the residence, to a drug trafficking operation.
The search warrant ...view middle of the document...
After speaking briefly with each other, the officers left the basement and continued to search the remainder of the home.
Mr. Harrison stated that the officers were discussing the contents of the open box when they were both together in the basement but he could not really hear what they were saying.
After searching the entire house and finding no drug paraphernalia, the officers returned to the basement and began to open the other boxes. The officers found more jerseys in the boxes and speculated that the possession of so many jerseys was "suspicious." They informed Mr. Harrison that they were taking the boxes to the police station because they could be evidence of a crime. However, there is no indication in the police report that the police officers ever questioned Mr. Harrison regarding the boxes of jerseys.
Upon their return to the police station, the officers investigated as to whether there were any reports of missing NFL jerseys. A few days later, the officers received a report stating that several boxes containing NFL jerseys had been stolen from a warehouse owned by the United States government. After further investigation, it was determined that the NFL jerseys seized from Mr. Harrison's residence were in fact stolen. On September 3, 2004, Mr. Harrison was arrested and subsequently, indicted in federal court on possession of stolen property charges.
Mr. Harrison has no criminal record and has been steadily employed for over 25 years at his current company which he began immediately after graduating from high school.
When asked about why he had the boxes of NFL jerseys in his possession, Mr. Harrison stated that a friend asked him to hold on to the boxes for him for a few days. He never questioned his friend about the contents of the boxes nor did he have any idea that the boxes contained stolen jerseys.
Did the seizure of the NFL jerseys from Mr. Harrison’s home satisfy the “immediate awareness” requirement of the plain view doctrine?
III. SHORT ANSWER
No. The seizure of the NFL jerseys from Mr. Harrison’s home did not satisfy the “immediate awareness” requirement of the plain view doctrine.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized." United States v. Gray, 484 F.2d 352 (Ky. 1973).
However, there is an...