Cite as Rodriquez v. FSM,
3 FSM Intrm. 385 (Pon. 1988)

[3 FSM Intrm. 385]




CRIM. ACTION NO. 1988-510

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

          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 Defendant:      Joseph Phillip
          (Paulus Rodriquez      Public Defender
          Lucy Rodriquez)          State of Pohnpei
                                                Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

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Constitutional Law - Search and Seizure
     An individual's home, even one located on public land, qualifies for constitutional protection against warrantless searches.  FSM v. Rodriquez, 3 FSM Intrm. 385, 386 (Pon. 1988).

[3 FSM Intrm. 386]

Constitutional Law - Search and Warrant
     The Protection in article VI, section 5 of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia against unreasonable search and seizure is based upon the comparable provision in the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution.  FSM v. Rodriquez, 3 FSM Intrm. 385, 386 (Pon. 1988).

Constitutional Law - Search and Warrant
     Although an individual acting without state authorization hats constructed a sleeping hut and has planted crops on state-owned public land, state police officers may nevertheless enter the land without a search warrant to make reasonable inspections of it and may observe and seize illegally possessed plants in open view and plainly visible from outside the sleeping hut.  FSM v. Rodriquez, 3 FSM Intrm. 385, 386 (Pon. 1988).

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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 landremains public.  State authorities are entitled to enter and make at reasonableinspection of public land without a search warrant.  Even on public premises, 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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