Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hollis: Protective sweep justifies search

In U.S. v. Hollis, No. 13-13780 (March 12, 2015), the Court held that evidence was discovered in plain view during a protective sweep incident to an arrest, and therefore rejected the defendant’s Fourth Amendment challenge. Without addressing the government’s argument that Hollis, as a mere “guest” in another’s apartment, had no expectation of privacy, the Court found that the search of the apartment was incident to Hollis’ arrest and a valid attempt to ensure that the apartment did not contain other dangerous persons. Here, the police had been told that the apartment was a “drug house,” and could draw the rational inference that persons inside might be armed. The police found drugs in plain view during the protective sweep, and this evidence was admissible. The Court also found no error in the district court’s decision that a proffered defense expert lacked the necessary expertise to testify about the sufficiency of a latent fingerprint, noting the witness’s lack of qualification in fingerprint comparison.