Oregon v. Blair

Did defendant intend to consent to the search of closed containers inside his backpack? The Oregon Supreme Court found it was unclear whether the trial court so understood the inquiry before it, and, the Supreme Court concluded that opposing inferences permissibly could have been drawn from the evidence as to that issue. Before his trial on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, defendant moved to suppress the state’s primary evidence, drugs that a police officer found in a warrantless but purportedly consensual search of defendant’s backpack, on the ground that they were obtained in violation the Oregon Constitution. The trial court denied the motion and defendant was convicted. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, concluding that defendant’s consent to the search of his backpack did not extend to untying and looking into an opaque grocery bag, inside the backpack, in which the drugs were found. The state sought review of that decision, arguing that defendant’s unqualified consent to the police officer’s generalized request to search the backpack should be deemed on the record to encompass consent to open any closed but unlocked containers found inside. The Supreme Court concluded that the state’s argument did not comport with Article I, section 9. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals, and vacated the judgment convicting defendant. The case was remanded to the circuit court to reconsider its suppression decision under the correct standard. View "Oregon v. Blair" on Justia Law