CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Interesting New Case Involving Katz Test

In People v. Galvadon, two police officers chased a suspect into a liquor store and then into a back room of the store that was typically used by store employees for commercial purposes.  Once there, the officers found marijuana in plain view, and promptly arrested the store manager on duty at the time (in additional to the suspect they were chasing). The store manager moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the back room, and that therefore the officers' conduct amounted to an unconstitutional search.  The Supreme Court of Colorado accepted the store manager's argument despite the fact that:  (1) the liquor industry is a highly-regulated industry, which the state argued had diminished any expectation of privacy the store manager might have otherwise enjoyed in the space, and (2) several video cameras were located in the back room that recorded everything that occurred there.  Regarding this second point, the state had argued that the store manager lost his expectation of privacy by "knowingly exposing" his actions in the back room to the store owner, who had access to the tapes.  Rejecting this argument, the court stated:  "The surveillance system in this case was viewable only by Galvadon and the owner of the store. The simple fact that Galvadon's activities were being recorded via the surveillance system is not enough to demonstrate he had no reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion. There is no evidence that the surveillance system was reviewable by the government or government officials."  BNA summary here.  Decision here and here.  [Mark Godsey]

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