S.D.Ohio: Def who left property in sister’s house without plan to ever return lacked standing, and she had apparent authority to consent

Defendant stored property with his sister in her house for extended periods of time. Here, he lacked standing to challenge the search of his stuff in her house, and she had apparent authority to consent to the search. United States v. Felix, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78559 (S.D. Ohio May 9, 2019). As to standing:

Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence in the record from which to conclude that Defendant displayed, articulated, or even intended a legitimate expectation of privacy through the use of “normal precautions.” King, 426 F.3d at 844 (quoting Bond, 529 U.S. at 338). Indeed, the evidence indicates that Defendant had a history of abandoning his unsecured property wherever he stayed and having his former hosts chase after him to return the items. See United States v. Eastman, 645 F. App’x 476, 479 (6th Cir. 2016) (“a person who voluntarily abandons property in the absence of an unconstitutional seizure has no legitimate expectation of privacy in it, and therefore its search or seizure does not violate his Fourth Amendment rights”) (collecting cases) (emphasis in original). The evidence further suggests that, prior to being placed in the bags and stored in the closet by Ms. Felix, the items were haphazardly piled in the corner of Ms. Felix’s living room—a pile which Defendant notably did not even make. And Defendant presents no evidence to clarify which items from the living room pile were items he brought with him from Mr. Wesley’s (the evidence suggests virtually none), as opposed to items that he abandoned in Ms. Felix’s home years prior or abandoned in Mr. Wesley’s home before taking off unannounced with Mr. Wesley’s truck.

If ever there were a case where a defendant’s failure to show even the slightest consideration for his belongings would undermine his assertion of standing, it would be this case.

In assessing the factors this Court must consider: (1) Defendant has fundamentally failed to assert any proprietary or possessory interest in the bags searched or the items seized; (2) Defendant has not only failed to maintain any right to exclude others from the property, he has willingly abandoned the property at every turn; (3) Defendant has not taken any evidenced precautions to maintain his privacy; and (4) Defendant has exhibited no subjective expectation that the area would remain free from governmental intrusion or any intrusion for that matter. See Waller, 426 F.3d at 844. The only factor which may favor Defendant’s position is that he had legitimate access to the home and likely to the closet and bags.

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