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Name: U.S. v. Hernandez
Case #: 01-10557
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/23/2002
Summary

The court held a search of a package mailed to appellant Rosa Hernandez was reasonable, and that the postal inspector did not unreasonably delay obtaining a search warrant. Phillips, a postal inspector in Hawaii, received information from a California postal inspector that a suspicious express mail package had been sent to Hawaii. (The opinion does not make clear whether the name of the addressee was also conveyed). Phillips retrieved the package, which would have been delivered the next day if not intercepted. He detained the package for further investigation based on these factors: 1) Although the return address was correct, he could not verify the return addressee, Quiuirly Hernandez, lived there; 2) the label was person to person and handwritten; 3) it was mailed from California, a known drugsource state: 4) it was completely taped on all seams, except for one four inch section 5) it was sent by express mail. He did not call for a canine examination until 1:00 p.m. the next day, because he was busy with other time-sensitive duties. The dog alerted at 2:00 p.m., and by 7:25 p.m., Phillips completed an affidavit in support of a warrant application. It was issued by the magistrate at 10:30 the next morning, and from 12:45 to 2:00 p.m., Phillips executed the warrant, finding five pounds of crystal methamphetamine and 10 grams of heroin. The detention of the package was reasonable based upon the five listed factors. There was no unreasonable delay because assuming it would have been delivered as early as 6:00 a.m. the next day, there was at most a 7 hour delay, which was justified by Phillips’ need to make travel arrangements to Hawaii for mainland witnesses in a trial scheduled for the following week.