The Law School Authority

Minnesota v. Carter Case Brief

Summary of Minnesota v. Carter, Supreme Court of United States (1998)

Respondent/Defendant: Carter and Johns; the defendants were bagging cocaine in the apartment of a person whom they did not know before and they were in the apartment purely for business purposes. An officer observed the defendants bagging cocaine through a gap in the closed blind. The defendants were later arrested. Upon appeal, the defendants argued that their arrest was the result of the original unlawful search (officer seeing through the gap) and it was the fruit of a ‘poisonous tree’. The Supreme Court of Minnesota reversed the conviction and now the state appeals.

Issue: 1. Did the defendants have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the apartment? 2. Did the officer’s observation through the window constitute a search?

Holding: 1. No 2. Not Decided, the court did not decide on this issue

Legal Reasoning: The court ruled that unlike Jones v. United States, the defendants in the current case were in the apartment only for commercial purposes and they were there only for about 2 and a half hours. The court stated that the defendants had no prior relations with the owner of the apartment before the day of the arrest and their sole purpose for being in the apartment was to conduct business. So the court ruled that the defendants had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the apartment. The decision of the lower court was reversed.

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