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Name: United States v. Murphy
Case #: 06-30582
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/20/2008

A warrantless search after co-tenant has expressly denied consent but authority is given by co-tenant is invalid as to the nonconsenting co-tenant. Police officers observed two men bringing drug manufacturing equipment into a storage unit in a storage facility. The units were rented by appellant Murphy and a man named Roper. The officers knocked on the door of one unit, and Murphy opened it. Officers observed a drug lab in plain view. Murphy was arrested, but refused consent to a search of the units. Roper arrived later and consented to the search. The trial court denied Murphy’s motion to suppress the seized evidence. The appellate court reversed in part. The first search following the arrest was justified by the officer’s legitimate concern about the potential presence of confederates in the area. The second search was conducted after Murphy refused consent to search and had been arrested and removed from the scene. Officers obtained consent from Roper two hours after Murphy had expressly refused to grant his. Murphy was temporarily living in the storage units. For purposes of the Fourth Amendment, this is sufficient to create an expectation of privacy and thus the authority to refuse a search. When a co-tenant objects to a search, and another party with common authority subsequently gives consent to that search in the absence of the first co-tenant, the search is invalid as to the objecting co-tenant.