CA5: Interstate stalking warrant made laptop and cell phones in motel room seizable by plain view because evidentiary value was “immediately apparent”

Defendant was convicted of interstate stalking a local TV personality and her husband by email and phone. Police had an arrest warrant for him, found his car at a motel, and had the manager call him to the front desk to get arrested. They asked him if he wanted anything from his room, and he said his wallet. They took him to the room and found cell phones and a laptop computer, which they seized as in plain view. Because of what they knew about the stalking, the evidentiary value was immediately apparent to them. Defendant’s argument that they took him back to the room to make the plain view is rejected because Washington v. Chrisman would have authorized an arrest at the room and the same plain view. United States v. Conlan, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7956 (5th Cir. May 14, 2015).

The Tenth Circuit permits an officer to state in a warrant application that a drug dealer will likely keep his drugs at his home, and that establishes nexus. Besides that, however, there was a drug deal at defendant’s house, and “Courts have held that one observed drug transaction is sufficient to establish probable cause to search the place where it occurred.” United States v. Banks, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63855 (D.Kan. May 15, 2015).*

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