D.N.M.: A “manpower shortage” for seizure of possible evidence isn’t exigency without PC

Defendant consented to a search of his car and his hotel room, but not to a search of his guitar case in the room. Thinking there might be drugs there, the officer seized the guitar case to preserve the potential evidence while he got a search warrant. There was no probable cause whatsoever to seize the guitar case or for the warrant. The claim of evidence preservation was based on lack of manpower and not a legal justification. The search also couldn’t be justified by inevitable discovery. United States v. Montes, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32969 (D. N.M. Feb. 25, 2020).

“Even assuming the officers improperly questioned Defendant about the PIN prior to providing a Miranda advisement, the contents of the phone were accessible through alternate, legal means. Thus, the inevitable discovery exception renders the phone’s contents admissible.” The officers were able to access it with computer tools. United States v. Fischer, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32965 (D. Neb. Feb. 16, 2020).

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