FSM SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION (Pon.)
Cite as FSM v. Rodriquez,
3 FSM Intrm. 368 (Pon. 1988)

[3 FSM Intrm. 368]

FEDERATED STATES OFMICRONESIA,
Plaintiff,

v.

LIHNO RODRIQUEZ, PAULUS RODRIQUEZ
and LUCY RODRIQUEZ,
Defendants.
 
CRIM. ACTION NO. 1988-510

MEMORANDUM DECISION
 
Before Edward C. King
Chief Justice
FSM Supreme Court
May 25, 1988

[3 FSM Intrm. 369]

APPEARANCES:
          For the Plaintiff:              Randy Boyer
                                                   Pohnpei State Attorney
                                                   Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941
 
          For the Defendant:         John Brackett
          (Lihno Rodriquez)          Attorney at Law
                                                   Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941
 
          For the Defendants:       Joseph Phillip
          (Paulus Rodriquez          Public Defender
          and Lucy Rodriquez)      Pohnpei State 96941

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HEADNOTES
Criminal Law and Procedure-Search and Seizure
     Even on public premises a person may retain an expectation of privacy, but where a person residing on public land makes no effort to preserve the privacy of marijuana plants and seedings, entry of police on the premises and seizure of contraband that is plainly visible from outside the residence is not an unconstitutional search and seizure.  FSM v. Rodriquez, 3 FSM Intrm. 368, 370 (Pon. 1988).

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COURT'S OPINION
EDWARD C. KING, Chief Justice:
     Defendants' motion to suppress challenges the legality of the actions of Pohnpei state police officers and agents of the United State Drug Enforcement Agency in entering public land on which the defendants were residing, and subsequently observing and seizing plants and seedlings alleged to be marijuana.  The evidence establishes that the land on which these events occurred was publicly owned land.

     Defendant Lihno Rodriquez wrote to Trust Territory authorities in 1973 seeking the opportunity to acquire the land, but received no response.  Since 1973 he cultivated the land and has been growing crops there.  He constructed a sleeping hut on the land and he and family members frequently stay on the land three or four nights at a stretch.

     Regardless of the attempt by Lihno Rodriquez to claim the land, the land remains public.  State authorities are entitled to enter and make a reasonable inspection of public land without a search warrant.  Even on public premises,

[3 FSM Intrm. 370]

however, an individual may retain a legitimate expectation of privacy as to certain items and effects, e.g., those items on his person or in closed containers.  FSM v. Tipen, 1 FSM Intrm. 79, 86 (Pon. 1982).  An individual's home, even one located on public land, qualifies for constitutional protection against warrantless searches.  Cf. FSM v. George, 1 FSM Intrm. 449, 461 (Kos. 1984).

     Here, however, there is no showing of an effort to preserve the privacy of any of the seized items.  The plants outside were in open view.  Even the seedlings inside the open sleeping hut were plainly visible from outside.

     Finding no constitutional violation, the Court denies the motion to suppress.

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