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United States v. Lopez

547 F.3d 364 (2008)

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United States v. Lopez

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

547 F.3d 364 (2008)

Facts

Officer Arroyo and Sergeant Barrett of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stopped at Ricardo Lopez’s (defendant) idling car because they saw Lopez arguing with his girlfriend, and after questioning Lopez, the officers suspected that Lopez was driving drunk. During the stop, police recovered a gun from Lopez’s pants pocket and cocaine from the girlfriend’s purse. Police arrested Lopez and his girlfriend and transported Lopez’s car to a police precinct. Arroyo and Barrett later conducted an inventory search of Lopez’s car. In their first pass through the car, Arroyo and Barrett found cocaine in the center console, a liquor bottle in the driver’s side door, and a bag full of cocaine and related paraphernalia tucked behind other items in the trunk. Arroyo later found a loaded gun in the glove compartment. The officers created an inventory that listed Lopez’s girlfriend’s purse and jewelry, but used a catch-all description, “the belongings in the car,” to encompass a beach chair, an umbrella, speakers, and other items. Arroyo testified that it was her practice to mention items in an inventory only if they were worth something. Barrett testified that it was her practice to make a complete list of items but failure to make an inventory would not violate NYPD regulations. Lopez moved to suppress the items recovered from the warrantless inventory search of his car, arguing that it was not an inventory search because the officers did not prepare a full inventory or follow a standardized police procedure for inventory searches. The district court denied Lopez’s motion to suppress and convicted him of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and Lopez appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leval, J.)

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