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State v. Maxim

Supreme Court of Idaho

December 4, 2019

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
ANDREW CHARLES MAXIM, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Peter G. Barton, District Judge.

         District court decision denying motion to suppress, reversed, judgment of conviction vacated, and case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

          Eric Frederickson, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Brian Richard Dickson argued.

          Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Jeffery D. Nye argued.


         Andrew Charles Maxim appeals from the district court's denial of his motion to suppress drug evidence found on his person after police searched the home he was living in without a warrant. The district court found that the exclusionary rule need not apply under the circumstances because the police would have inevitably discovered the heroin despite any alleged illegality. The dispositive issues on appeal are whether a probationer can object to a search of his home or person when he has waived his Fourth Amendment rights as a condition of probation and whether the district court erred in its inevitable-discovery analysis.


         On September 27, 2017, Officer Kyle Ludwig and a second police officer visited an apartment complex in Meridian, Idaho, after police dispatch had received a call from the apartment manager. The manager told dispatch that she had heard from a tenant that there was suspected drug use in an apartment where children also resided. Upon the officer's arrival at the complex, the manager flagged down the officers and explained that she received the information "a day or two before," but that "strange people" had been in the apartment that morning.

         Upon approaching the apartment, the officers noticed that there were children's toys on the concrete patio outside the entrance. Officer Ludwig knocked on the front door and noticed there was "some give to the door." A second later, he knocked louder and more forcefully, and by doing so, pushed the door open. After a few second's pause at the threshold, Officer Ludwig entered the apartment and announced himself as police. An unnamed adult female walked through the first-floor hallway immediately to the left of entrance, and, upon questioning, informed Officer Ludwig that she did not live there. Officer Ludwig instructed her to stand with the second officer on the patio. Upon investigating the apartment, Officer Ludwig found one of the doors in the first-floor hallway was locked. He knocked on the door and, 20 seconds later, Maxim emerged and closed the door behind him.

         Officer Ludwig instructed Maxim to put his hands on his head, and Maxim complied. Upon being asked whether he had anything illegal on him, Maxim started patting his pockets and said "I have a knife" and began to reach in his pocket. Immediately, Officer Ludwig instructed Maxim to return his hands to his head and Maxim obeyed. Affixing Maxim's hands atop Maxim's head with his left hand, Officer Ludwig led Maxim toward the apartment's entrance. Upon reaching the entryway, Officer Ludwig asked Maxim where the knife was located. Maxim said, "It's in my right pocket," and continued walking towards the front door. With his right hand, Officer Ludwig began to pat down Maxim's right pocket (while still affixing Maxim's hands to his head with his left hand) and Maxim continued walking. Officer Ludwig ordered Maxim to halt, and Maxim complied. Still holding his hands above his head, Officer Ludwig turned out Maxim's pocket with his right hand. After removing the knife and placing it on a foyer table, Officer Ludwig reached back and felt through the outturned pocket and removed a small, multicolored silicon container. Officer Ludwig would later testify that such containers, in his professional experience, often contain heroin. Before opening the container, Officer Ludwig asked Maxim how much heroin the container held, and Maxim responded "It's not mine . . . I just picked it up off the table." Officer Ludwig placed Maxim in handcuffs, and sat him outside on the patio.

         The officers searched the apartment, but no children were present, though children appeared to live there. The door that Maxim exited was locked, and no response came from within upon the officer's prompting. About a half hour after the officers entered the house, one of the children who lived at the apartment was dropped off by the school bus. Officer Ludwig placed Maxim in the back of a patrol vehicle, and, upon further questioning, Maxim revealed that he was on probation for grand theft and Officer Ludwig had dispatch run his name through the system. The search revealed that Maxim had outstanding warrants for failure to appear. Maxim allowed the officer to call the apartment owner on his cellphone, and she arrived shortly thereafter. She allowed the officers to unlock the hallway door with a screwdriver to reveal a bathroom. A second male was found hiding behind the shower curtain.

         The State charged Maxim with felony possession of a controlled substance. Maxim promptly filed a motion to suppress "all evidence obtained as the result of an illegal, warrantless entry into [his] residence and/or an illegal pat-down." Maxim argued that there were no exigent circumstances to justify the officer's warrantless entry of the home because no facts demonstrated an imminent emergency. He also claimed that Officer Ludwig unlawfully frisked him because, despite admitting to possessing a knife in his pocket, the circumstances were insufficient for Officer Ludwig to reasonably believe that Maxim was armed and presently dangerous.

         In response, the State asserted a number of alternative arguments. First, the State contended that Maxim did not have "standing" to object to the searches because he did not have a "reasonable or legitimate expectation of privacy in the area searched. . . ." To prove this, the State pointed out that Maxim denied living at the apartment when asked by Officer Ludwig and that he waived his Fourth Amendment rights under his terms of probation. Next, the State argued the officers did not need a warrant to search the apartment because they were performing their community-caretaking function. Lastly, the State argued that even if there were Fourth Amendment violations, the exclusionary rule need not apply because "the police would have utilized certain proper and predictable investigatory procedures; and . . . such procedures would have inevitably led to the discovery of the evidence . . . ."

         Maxim responded by arguing that he lived at the apartment at the time of the search and that he was not required to have an ownership interest in the apartment to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Maxim asserted that he retained Fourth Amendment standing because the officers were unaware of the waiver at the time of the alleged violations.

         The district court held a hearing on the motion in late December 2017. At the hearing, Maxim testified that he had been living at the apartment for almost a month prior to his arrest. Officer Ludwig testified that he did not know of Maxim's probation status at the time he entered the apartment or frisked Maxim. At the hearing, the district court found that Maxim made a sufficient showing to shift the burden to the State. The district court took the rest of the issues under advisement. On January 30, 2018, the district court entered a written decision and order denying Maxim's motion and concluded that discovery of the heroin was inevitable. Since the discovery was inevitable and the exclusionary rule would not apply, the district court reasoned it was not necessary "to determine whether the actual entry and pat-down of Maxim were lawful" or to "analyze the effectiveness of Mr. Maxim's waiver unknown to the officers at the time."

         Shortly thereafter, Maxim pleaded guilty to possession of heroin, reserving the right to appeal the denial of the motion to dismiss. He timely appealed.


1. Can the existence of a Fourth Amendment waiver make an otherwise unreasonable search of a probationer's home reasonable even if the police were not aware of the waiver at the time of the search?
2. Did the district court err in finding that the evidence would have been inevitably discovered?


         When reviewing a decision on a motion to suppress, this Court "accepts the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but freely reviews the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found." State v. Mullins, 164 Idaho 493, 496, 432 P.3d 42, 45 (2018) (quoting State v. McNeely, 162 Idaho 413, 414-15, 398 P.3d 146, 147-48 (2017)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . ." U.S. Const. amend. IV. The "basic purpose" of the Fourth Amendment "is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by governmental officials." Carpenter v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 2206, 2213 (2018) (quoting Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco, 387 U.S. 523, 528 (1967)). "The Founding generation crafted the Fourth Amendment as a response to the reviled 'general warrants' and 'writs of assistance' of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity." Id. (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Determining whether government activity constitutes a "search" under the Fourth Amendment is an inquiry that has evolved with the times. In the early days, the search doctrine was "tied to common-law trespass," and asked whether the government "obtain[ed] information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area." United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 405, 406 n. 3 (2012). In recent times, the Supreme Court has established that "the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places," and expanded the concept of the Amendment to government violations of an "expectation of privacy" that "society is prepared to recognize as 'reasonable.'" Carpenter, 138 S.Ct. at 2213 (quoting Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740 (1979)). Both historically and ...

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