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September 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Oregon court upholds suspect’s privacy in restroom

The Associated Press

PORTLAND — A suspect who ducks into a restroom to hide from the police is entitled to privacy from the officers, even when it’s apparent the suspect is just waiting them out, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled.

The court said the decision was consistent with previous holdings that, “although ‘every man’s house is his castle’ … a restroom is his ‘bastion of privacy.’ ”

The decision said a glass pipe with cocaine residue can’t be used as evidence in a 2010 drug arrest because it was seized without a warrant when police unlocked a public restroom to arrest a man wanted for a probation violation.

The decision written by Presiding Judge David Schuman said the Appeals Court ruled in an earlier case that there are privacy rights in a restroom even when the restroom was being used for an “unintended purpose.” The unintended purpose in the earlier case was masturbation.

In the case decided Wednesday, the court said it was apparent that Marvin Lee Holiday went into the restroom for privacy from the police, The Oregonian reported.

The decision provided this sequence of events:

A member of the Portland police mounted patrol, Ryan Albertson, said he had seen Holiday on the street, knew him from past arrests and encounters, and called his probation officer — who said to pick up Holiday.

Later that afternoon, Albertson saw Holiday near a public restroom and approached. Holiday quickly went into the bathroom and locked the door. Albertson pounded on the door and yelled at Holiday to come out.

Another officer arrived with a city key, and when Holiday still wouldn’t come out, they opened the door. Holiday emerged with a plastic bag that held the glass pipe. He was sentenced to 17 days in jail.

The case has been sent back to Multnomah County where prosecutors will decide whether to retry it.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Oregon Court of Appeals

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