BY THE COURT
a person is arrested in a public place, the arresting officer
may take custody of personal effects that are with the
arrestee at the time if it is reasonable under the totality
of the circumstances.
Standardized criteria or an established routine must regulate
the opening of containers during a valid inventory search.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished
opinion filed August 21, 2015. Appeal from Douglas District
Court; Paula B. Martin, judge.
of the Court of Appeals affirming the district court is
reversed. Judgment of the district court is reversed and
Corrine E. Gunning, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office,
argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.
Duncan Butler, assistant district attorney, argued the cause,
and Patrick J. Hurley, assistant district attorney, Charles
E. Branson, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney
general, were on the brief for appellee.
M. Baker appeals the denial of his motion to suppress
evidence discovered through a warrantless search of his
backpack at the time of arrest as well as his resulting
convictions for possession of methamphetamine and possession
of drug paraphernalia. The district court denied the motion,
ruling the evidence would have been inevitably discovered
during an inventory search. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
conclude the officers reasonably seized Baker's backpack
but the State presented no evidence of an established
inventory routine that would have inevitably led to the
opening of the containers in which the evidence was found.
Therefore, we hold the State did not prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the contraband would have been
inevitably discovered and the district court erred in denying
Baker's motion to suppress. Accordingly, we reverse and
and Procedural Background
material facts are not in dispute. In July 2013, Detective
Mike McAtee and Officer Kim Nicholson, with the Lawrence
Police Department, were traveling to court in an unmarked
police vehicle when they noticed Baker riding his bicycle and
wearing a blue drawstring backpack. Detective McAtee called
for assistance because he knew Baker had outstanding arrest
warrants and was a suspect in other cases. Detective McAtee
and Officer Nicholson spotted Baker's bicycle outside the
Habitat for Humanity store in the 700 block of Connecticut
Street in Lawrence. They found Baker inside the store holding
the same backpack.
the officers approached, Baker dropped the backpack. They
arrested Baker on his outstanding warrants, and Detective
McAtee instructed Officer Ryan Halsted to search the
backpack. Officer Halsted searched the backpack at the scene
and discovered needles inside a Nintendo game case. He
searched the backpack again in an evidence room and found a
bag of crystal-like substance inside a cell phone carrier.
The substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
moved to suppress this evidence, arguing the warrantless
search of his backpack violated the Fourth Amendment.
Specifically, Baker claimed his backpack was searched without
probable cause and the contraband would not have been
inevitably discovered through an inventory search. He also
argued law enforcement would not have had lawful custody of
the backpack at the time of an inventory search. The State
countered that the evidence would have been inevitably
discovered through an inventory search at the arresting
agency or jail and it was reasonable to seize the backpack
instead of leaving it unattended in the store.
suppression hearing, Detective McAtee testified the backpack
was searched for evidence of crimes under investigation and
collected for safekeeping as Baker's personal property.
He explained the police have an obligation to collect
personal property instead of leaving it unattended at the
scene following an arrest.
officers testified about inventory searches. The State asked
Officer Halsted, "When you make an arrest of an
individual on the street and you take that individual to the
county jail, what do you do with that individual's
belongings that ...