FSM SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION (Pon.)
Cite as FSM v. Rosario, Damarlane, Harry ,
3 FSM Intrm.387 (Pon.1988)

[3 FSM Intrm. 387]

FEDERATED STATES OFMICRONESIA,
Plaintiff,

v.

MAIORIKO ROSARIO,
Defendant.

CRIM. ACTION NO. 1988-509

FEDERATED STATES OFMICRONESIA,
Plaintiff,

v.

PIKDORINO DAMARLANE,
Defendant.

CRIM. ACTION NO. 1988-512

FEDERATED STATES OFMICRONESIA,
Plaintiff,

v.

WETSIN HARRY,
Defendant.

CRIM. ACTION NO. 1988-514
MEMORANDUM DECISION
 
Before Edward C. King
Chief Justice
May 26, 1988

APPEARANCES:
          For the Plaintiff:           Randy Boyer
                                                Pohnpei State Attorney
                                                Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

[3 FSM Intrm. 388]

          For the Defendants:     Fred Atcheson
                                                 Public Defender
                                                 Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

*        *        *        *

HEADNOTES
Criminal Law and Procedure - Search and Seizure
     When investigators, acting without a search warrant on advance information, conduct searches in privately owned areas beyond the immediate area of a dwelling house, and seize contraband, they do not thereby violate the prohibitions in article VI, section 5 of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia against unreasonable search and seizure.  FSM v. Rosario, 3 FSM Intrm. 387, 387 (Pon. 1988).

*        *        *        *

COURT'S OPINION
EDWARD C. KING, Chief Justice:
     The motions to suppress in these three cases all involve searches conducted in Pohnpei, without search warrants, during the week of February 15, 1988.  All three searches were carried out by a practically identical team of Pohnpei state police officers and United States Drug Enforcement Agency agents.  Because of the factual similarities and the congruence of legal issues, these cases have been consolidated for purposes of the motions to suppress.

     In each case, investigators had received advance information that they would find marijuana on the premises of the defendant.  The officers went to the premises of each defendant without first obtaining search warrants, but conducted their searches beyond the immediate area of the dwelling house.  They located and seized the items at issue in the motions to suppress, away from dwelling areas, although on the land of the defendants.

     Long before the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia was adopted, courts in the United States had concluded that police officers could search open fields, even privately owned ones, without a search warrant. Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S. Ct. 445, 68 L. Ed. 898 (1924).  The protection in article IV, 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. Tipen, 1 FSM Intrm. 79, 85 (Pon. 1982).  The framers of the Federated States of Micronesia Constitution looked to United States court decisions to determine the meaning of the words they were selecting for the declaration of rights in this Constitution.  SCREP No. 23, II J. of Micro. Con. Con. 793.

[3 FSM Intrm. 389]

     The searches here fall within the Hester open fields doctrine.  There is no reason to doubt that the framers intended for that doctrine to apply here.

     The Court concludes that the searches at issue have not violated the constitutional rights of the defendants.  The motions to suppress will therefore be denied.

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