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United States v. Garay

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 17, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Nahach Manuel Garay, AKA Nahach Guerrero, AKA Polar Bear, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted August 13, 2019 Pasadena, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court No. 2:17-cr-00188-RGK-1 for the Central District of California R. Gary Klausner, District Judge, Presiding

          Michael Tanaka (argued), Los Angeles, California, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Julia L. Reese (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; L. Ashley Aull, Chief, Criminal Division; Nicola T. Hanna, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, California; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Mary M. Schroeder and Susan P. Graber, Circuit Judges, and Michael H. Watson, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY [**]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed a conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in a case in which the district court denied the defendant's motion to suppress evidence found as a result of the search of his cell phone, seized from his rental car after a high-speed chase.

         Under Byrd v. United States , 138 S.Ct. 1518 (2018), which clarified that Fourth Amendment standing is not jurisdictional, the panel did not need to reach the government's threshold contention that the defendant lacked standing to challenge the search of the phone before analyzing the merits of the defendant's Fourth Amendment claims.

         The panel held that the district court did not err in concluding that the defendant's cell phone was lawfully seized as part of a valid inventory search, where there was no reason to conclude that the search was used to rummage for evidence. The panel noted that administrative errors should not, on their own, invalidate inventory searches.

         The panel held that the district court correctly determined that probable cause supported the two warrants issued to search the defendant's cell phone. The panel explained that affiants seeking a warrant may state conclusions based on training and experience without having to detail that experience. The panel concluded that there was a sufficient factual basis for the issuing magistrate judges to conclude, independently of the affiants' beliefs, that evidence might be found on the defendant's cell phone.

          OPINION

          SCHROEDER, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Nahach Garay appeals his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) as a felon in possession of a firearm. He challenges the denial of his motion to suppress evidence found as a result of the search of his cell phone, seized from his rental car after a high-speed chase. The phone contained photographs that tied him to the firearm that was recovered from the car. The district court ruled that the phone was lawfully seized in an inventory search of the car and that the warrants authorizing the search of the phone's contents were supported by probable cause.

         The government's threshold contention on appeal is that Garay lacked standing to challenge the search of the phone because he had abandoned any reasonable expectation of privacy in its contents when he ran from the car. We need not address this question. Under the Supreme Court's recent decision in Byrd v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1518, 1530 (2018), such an inquiry is not jurisdictional, and, so, we need not consider it before we analyze the merits of ...


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