IL: Officer reaching into vestibule of home violated curtilage

The officer’s reaching into the vestibule of a two-unit apartment building intruded into an area with a reasonable expectation of privacy under Jardines. The building was essentially a one family dwelling. People v. Martin, 2017 IL App (1st) 143255, 2017 Ill. App. LEXIS 370 (June 12, 2017):

[*P26] Extending the reasoning of Villegas and King, the record indicates that 5154 West Fulton should be treated as a single-family home. West stated that she owned the building and lived on the first floor, and on June 9 and at the time of the hearing, no one lived on the second floor. She also stated that defendant occasionally stayed with her and had stayed overnight the previous evening. Beyond the building being occupied by one family, it was also owned by a member of that family. Further, West testified that the building was her home and denied that anyone could walk in. She had a “no trespassing” sign in the window. She also stated that the space between the outer and interior doors was private. Although the front door was slightly ajar on June 9, West stated that she locks the front door with a key. 5154 West Fulton was not a typical multiunit building where numerous tenants and members of the public were expected to enter. Rather, it was viewed as the family home, and we will treat it as such for the purposes of this case. See also United States v. Werra, 638 F.3d 326, 336 (1st Cir. 2011) (the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy where the defendant believed the entire house, and not just the third floor, served as his home, and shared living arrangements with housemates).

[*P27] We now apply Jardines to the officers’ actions at 5154 West Fulton. The first question is whether the officers’ investigation took place in a constitutionally protected area. Jardines, 569 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. at 1414-15. The Supreme Court stated that at the very core of the fourth amendment is the “‘right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.’” Id. at ___, 133 S. Ct. at 1414. Additionally, as noted above, the area “‘immediately surrounding and associated with the home,’” known as curtilage, is considered part of the home itself for fourth amendment purposes. Id. at ___, 133 S. Ct. at 1414. In United States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294, 301, 107 S. Ct. 1134, 94 L. Ed. 2d 326 (1987), the Supreme Court listed four factors to consider when defining the extent of a home’s curtilage: (1) the proximity of the area claimed to be curtilage to the home; (2) whether the area is included within an enclosure surrounding the home; (3) the nature of the uses to which the area is put; and (4) the steps taken by the resident to protect the area from observation by passersby. These factors are “useful analytical tools only to the degree that, in any given case, they bear upon the centrally relevant consideration—whether the area in question is so intimately tied to the home itself that it should be placed under the home’s ‘umbrella’ of Fourth Amendment protection.” Id.

[*P28] Here, Officer Warner recovered an item from above the inside doorframe of the outer door of 5154 West Fulton. Although the area beyond the outer doorway led to two apartment doors, we determined above that the entire building is a single-family home, which includes the area above the inside doorframe. As “the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house” (Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 590, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 63 L. Ed. 2d 639 (1980)), the area above the inside doorframe was a constitutionally protected area. Further, to the extent that Officer Warner stood on top of the steps outside 5154 West Fulton, that area outside the door was akin to a porch, which is a “classic exemplar” of curtilage. See Jardines, 569 U.S. at ___, 133 S. Ct. at 1415.

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