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Trash pull from curtilage of home is legal


John Lee conditionally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and to one count of possession of firearms by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), reserving his right to contest the denial of his motion to suppress evidence. He challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence uncovered from a trash container as part of a “trash pull” at his residence.


Lee argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress because he manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in his trash container that was objectively reasonable. In California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988), the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit “the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home.” Because Lee placed his trash container “in an area particularly suited for public inspection and, in a manner of speaking, public consumption, for the express purpose of having strangers take it,” Lee could have “no reasonable expectation of privacy in the inculpatory items” that were discarded, whether located within the curtilage of his home or not.

There is no error in the district court’s ruling.