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Name: U.S. v. Young
Case #: 07-10541
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/14/2009

Under the Fourth Amendment, a hotel guest has an expectation of privacy for his person and things in the room that protects him against unreasonable searches, unless his occupation of the room has been lawfully terminated. Johnson, a hotel guest, reported the theft of items from his room. After receiving the report, hotel security reviewed the hotel records and determined that the hotel mistakenly gave Young a key to Johnson’s room when he registered. A security agent went to the room where Young was actually staying to speak with him, but Young was out. The agent then entered the room with a master key to look for Johnson’s belongings. Although not finding any of Johnson’s property, the agent noticed a backpack which he opened and discovered a firearm. An electronic lock-out was effected on the room, preventing Young from entering. When Young returned, the security agent went to a police officer working in front of the hotel and had him detain Young. The officer spoke to Young and learned that he had been convicted of a felony and arrested him for being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. The Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s granting of the suppression motion, finding that the entry into the room and search of the backpack violated Young’s reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment which remained valid as Young had not been evicted from the hotel room at the time of the search. The court rejected the government’s claim of inevitable discovery, explaining that it had never applied the inevitable discovery exception to excuse police failure to obtain a search warrant where probable cause existed to obtain the warrant but police did not do so because that would completely obviate the need for a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.