The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Ruiz on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner conditionally pled guilty to possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He reserved his right to appeal the district court’s denial of his motions to suppress evidence. On appeal, he contends the district court erred in refusing to suppress evidence seized from a rented airplane and from his former residence.
The Court agreed with the district court’s analysis. The Court found that even if were assumed that Petitioner had an expectation of privacy in the hangar, akin to that of a houseguest, the owner of the hanger could nevertheless admit law enforcement officials into the hangar, at which time the drug-sniffing dog could have identified Petitioner’s plane as containing drugs. Additionally, the district court properly found that when Petitioner terminated his lease, he effectively abandoned his rental house. “As a result, he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the house at the time the police searched it upon request of the owner.”