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State v. Hinton; A-3/4-12 (070386) - Does Eviction Notice End Tenant's Right To Privacy?

Per The NJ Law Journal:

"New Jersey's high court is exploring whether a notice of eviction served at an apartment ends a resident's reasonable expectation of privacy and thus permits a warrantless search for drugs.

"A trial judge denied a motion to suppress in the case of Gene Hinton, who was arrested after the court official serving the notice at a public housing unit saw heroin in plain view and called the police. But the Appellate Division reversed and the state appealed, leading to oral arguments on Tuesday.

"Deputy Attorney General Emily Anderson told the court that the eviction changed the rules with respect to a need for a warrant. "The apartment had reverted back to the Newark Housing Authority," she said. "It's not only possible that others would enter into the apartment, it's probable that the government would enter.""

***

"Hinton's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Matthew Astore, said the Appellate Division was correct in determining that Hinton had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

"Hinton had 10 days to challenge the eviction notice. Even though he wasn't on the lease, he regarded himself as a co-tenant because he had lived in the apartment for about six years with the super's knowledge, Astore said.

"Serving an eviction notice, Astore continued, does not automatically take away a tenant's protections against unlawful searches and seizures or put the landlord in a position to authorize police to conduct a warrantless search.

""That would turn every eviction notice into police authority to search a premises," he said."

Full article, Appellate Division Decision and ACLU's amicus brief after the jump...