Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Today, in United States v. Lewis, the Second Circuit strongly reaffirmed that the Circuit has no “categorical rule” about Fourth Amendment standing over shared spaces in multi-unit buildings. On the contrary, the Circuit noted that people who live in single-family homes should not have greater Fourth Amendment protections then people in multi-unit buildings. It counseled that courts should use an “individualized approach” to assess a person’s privacy interest over any shared spaces.

Unfortunately for Vashun Lewis, however, the Circuit still found that he hadn’t shown a reasonable expectation of privacy over a back “porch” area that led to a common stairway. (The area described as a porch seems to have been inside the building, although it is not entirely clear from the decision). The Circuit said that Lewis had “neither pointed to any relevant evidence nor made any arguments pertinent to his reasonable expectation of privacy over the porch.”

Moral of the story? Don’t let the fact that the evidence in your case was found in a shared space stop you from making a suppression motion! But, also be sure to argue in the district court that your client had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area.


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