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State v. Kline

Supreme Court of South Dakota

March 8, 2017

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
SUEELLAN G. KLINE, Defendant and Appellant.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS FEBRUARY 13, 2017

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HE THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT BROOKINGS COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE GREGORY J. STOLTENBURG Judge

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General GRANT FLYNN Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          TIM HOGAN of Ribstein & Hogan Law Firm Brookings, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

          ZINTER, Justice

         [¶1.] Douglas Strong, a parolee, and his girlfriend Sueellan Kline lived together in a motel room. Strong's parole agent Connie Johnson came to the room to obtain a urine sample from Strong. When the sample field tested positive for methamphetamine, Johnson removed Strong from the room and detained him. Johnson then reentered the room and asked Kline if there were any drugs or drug paraphernalia in the room. Kline produced a methamphetamine pipe from her purse and handed it to Johnson, who subsequently turned it over to law enforcement. The pipe was used to obtain a search warrant for Kline's urine, which tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. The circuit court denied Kline's motion to suppress the evidence, and Kline was convicted of ingestion of a controlled substance. She appeals the denial of the suppression motion. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] Kline, her five children, and Strong resided together in a motel room in Brookings. Kline knew that Strong was on parole. Parole Agent Johnson, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Charles Umberger, went to the motel room to obtain a urine sample from Strong in accordance with Strong's parole agreement. Strong's urine field-tested positive for methamphetamine, and he admitted to smoking the substance. Johnson removed Strong from the room and detained him in the hallway, away from Kline's children. There is a dispute whether the door was completely closed when Johnson, Umberger, and Strong left the room. Johnson then asked Strong whether there were any drugs or drug paraphernalia in the room. Strong said there were not.

         [¶3.] After two to three minutes, Johnson reentered the room without knocking or requesting permission. She then asked Kline if there were any drugs or drug paraphernalia in the room. Johnson informed Kline that the "room was open for search and seizure under [Strong's] parole" and that Kline should be honest with her.[1] In response, Kline removed a methamphetamine pipe from her purse and handed it to Johnson. Johnson left the room and turned the pipe over to Umberger, who observed a white powdery residue on the pipe. Strong stated the pipe was his, and he later admitted that both he and Kline had smoked methamphetamine.

         [¶4.] Umberger used the pipe and Strong's admission to obtain a search warrant for a urine sample from Kline. Kline provided the sample, which tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. Kline was subsequently indicted for unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance.

         [¶5.] Kline moved to suppress all of the evidence, arguing that it was obtained as the result of an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article VI, section 11, of the South Dakota Constitution. The circuit court denied the motion, ruling that Johnson had reasonable suspicion to search the room and that Kline voluntarily produced the pipe. Kline stipulated to the facts at a court trial and was convicted and sentenced to probation. She appeals, alleging that Johnson unlawfully reentered Kline's residence without a warrant after having removed Strong; that any authority to search the residence did not extend to Kline's purse; and that Kline did not voluntarily consent to a search of her purse.[2]

         Decision

         [¶6.] Kline first argues that Johnson had no authority to search the motel room because Kline had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room-which was her residence-even though she shared it with a parolee. It is well settled that a parolee has a diminished expectation of privacy in their residence. State v. Kottman, 2005 S.D. 116, ¶ 10, 707 N.W.2d 114, 118. Parole agents may search a parolee's residence if they have reasonable suspicion that the parolee has committed a crime. Id. ¶ 15, 707 N.W.2d at 120-22; see also United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 121, 122 S.Ct. 587, 592-93, 151 L.Ed.2d 497 (2001). We have not, however, determined when the parolee's diminished expectation of privacy extends to third parties who cohabit with the parolee. Kline acknowledges that based on the field test of Strong's urine, Johnson could have immediately searched the residence without a warrant because Johnson had reasonable suspicion that Strong committed a crime. But Kline contends that once Johnson and Umberger removed Strong and detained him, Johnson could not reenter without a warrant. See State v. Bowker, 2008 S.D. 61, ¶ 18, 754 N.W.2d 56, 62-63 (noting that the heightened expectation of privacy in one's residence generally demands that law enforcement obtain a warrant prior to entering a home or dwelling).

         [¶7.] However, the circuit court found that Johnson's reentry was a continuation of the parole search rather than an independent law enforcement investigation that may have required a warrant. The evidence supports this finding. Johnson only removed Strong from the room to detain him outside the view of the children. Johnson subsequently remained outside the room for only two to three minutes to briefly question Strong. Then, following the questioning, Johnson reentered the room ...


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