Oregon v. Winn

The issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review in this matter centered on a trial court’s determination that defendant’s consent to a courthouse security officer’s generalized request to search her purse by hand, after running it twice through a courthouse x-ray screening device, extended to opening a small compact case that the officer found inside the purse. On her way to attend a juvenile court proceeding, defendant stopped at the security checkpoint inside the courthouse, placed her purse on the conveyor belt to be scanned, and walked through the body scanner. The officer at the checkpoint saw images of what appeared to be a compact and a spoon, objects that she thought might be “some sort of drug paraphernalia.” After scanning the purse a second time, with defendant’s permission, the officer asked to search defendant's purse in defendant's presence. The officer found a small, opaque compact, which she opened. Inside the compact, she saw a tiny plastic baggie filled with a white powder. Suspecting that the powder contained drugs, the screener contacted a Marion County deputy sheriff, who arrested defendant on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. Defendant was ultimately charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine when the substance was later identified as methamphetamine. The Court of Appeals concluded that the state had failed to establish that the screener's search of the compact comported with the scope of the consent that defendant had given, that the search therefore was unlawlful, and that the trial court had erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding the scope-of-consent inquiry was a factual one, directed at what the defendant actually intended. Opposing inferences led to the trial court not appreciating the factual nature of the inquiry. The case was remanded for the trial court to reconsider its suppression ruling under the correct legal standard. View "Oregon v. Winn" on Justia Law