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In re J. D. H.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

October 10, 2018

In the Matter of J. D. H., a Youth .
v.
J. D. H., Appellant. STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,

          Argued and submitted November 8, 2017

          Yamhill County Circuit Court 16JU02137; John L. Collins, Judge.

          Tiffany Keast argued the cause and fled the brief for appellant.

          Jonathan N. Schildt, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief was Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary: Youth appeals a judgment finding him within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute two counts of attempted assault in the first degree and one count of attempted unlawful use of a weapon. Youth assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence-viz., his journal-which police officers obtained when his mother gave them her consent to search his room. Held: The trial court's determination that youth's mother gave officers consent to search youth's room, including a search for and of youth's journal, was supported by evidence in the record. Additionally, youth's mother's access to the items in youth's room and control over the contents of youth's room, coupled with the particular parent-child relationship in this case, led the Court of Appeals to conclude that the trial court did not err when it concluded that youth's mother had actual authority to consent to a search of the items in youth's room, including youth's journal.

         Affirmed.

          [294 Or.App. 365] TOOKEY, J.

         In this juvenile delinquency case, youth appeals a judgment finding him within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute two counts of attempted assault in the first degree, ORS 161.405; ORS 163.185, and one count of attempted unlawful use of a weapon, ORS 161.405; ORS 166.220. In his first assignment of error, youth challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress his journal and its contents, which included plans to engage in a mass shooting at his high school. Specifically, youth argues that his mother, who consented to police officers conducting a warrantless search of youth's room, did not consent to a search of "closed containers within [youth's] room"-viz., the journal itself and a guitar case within which the journal was found. Additionally, youth asserts that, even if his mother did consent to the search, she lacked "actual authority" to do so. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.[1]

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         "When reviewing a denial of a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the state's search and seizure, we are bound by the trial court's findings of historical fact 'if there is constitutionally sufficient evidence in the record to support those findings.'" State v. Voyles, 280 Or.App. 579, 581, 382 P.3d 583, rev den, 360 Or. 751 (2016) (quoting State v. Ehly, 317 Or. 66, 75, 854 P.2d 421 (1993)). "If findings are not made on all pertinent historical facts, 'we will presume that the trial court found facts in a manner consistent with its ultimate conclusion.'" Id. (quoting State v. Stevens, 311 Or. 119, 127, 806 P.2d 92 (1991)).

         "Applying the above factual standard of review, we state the relevant facts from the trial court's findings and the record." Id. When police officers conducted the search at issue in this case, youth was 17 years old and living with his mother. Youth had his own bedroom in his mother's house, but he did not have "exclusive control over [his] bedroom and its contents." To the contrary, youth's mother "considered] [294 Or.App. 366] that she has control over the entire house and all [that's] in it, including [in youth's] bedroom" and had access to "[youth's] things in his room." Youth's mother "ultimately ** * set the rules" at the house "because it is [her] home," and youth understood that his mother was "in charge of the house and he follow[ed] her direction[s] or rules."

         Youth's mother went into youth's bedroom "at will ** * on an almost daily basis," to, among other things, "go and get dirty dishes, clean, [pick up] dirty clothes [, ] that kind of thing." Youth never protested his mother's entries into his room, asked her to leave or not to look at or in anything in the room, or "expressed any other expectation of privacy from his mother." The door to youth's bedroom had no locks or other barriers. There were "no private areas in the house."

         Additionally, as a result of youth's probations in separate juvenile cases, youth's mother was "contractually bound to supervise [youth] in their home and elsewhere and required to report any variance from his probation conditions to [his] juvenile probation officer." Youth's mother was "actively involved in his supervision." Youth's probations also required youth "to follow his mother's reasonable directions at home."

         With respect to the guitar case and journal that were searched in this case, youth's mother was aware that youth had a guitar in a canvas guitar case that had been given to youth by his pastor. Youth had never told his mother that she could not open his guitar case, but also had never given her permission to allow a search of the guitar case. Youth's mother testified that, "if youth had a journal or a diary, youth had not given her permission to read it, nor had he given her "permission to allow other persons to go into his room and search his things and go through his room just generally."

         The search at issue in this case occurred on or about March 3, 2016. Police officers went to youth's home to take youth into custody on probation violation detainers and also to question youth regarding allegations that he was planning a mass shooting at his school. After police officers were let into the home by a male friend of youth's mother, an officer [294 Or.App. 367] asked youth's mother if youth was home. Youth's mother told them "no." An officer then asked to look in youth's room to see if youth was there and youth's mother said, "That's fine." Officers looked in youth's room, and youth was not there.

         An officer then told youth's mother "to some degree about the school shooting plan investigation" that the officers were conducting and "asked for consent to search [youth's] room." The trial court found that youth's mother said "something like, 'Knock yourself out,' 'Go for it,' or words to that effect." At no time did she "express any limitations regarding [youth's] room, its contents or any other limitation on her authority to consent to search" or "protest [] the officers searching [youth's] room or seizing items before, during or after the search."

         After youth's mother consented to the search, officers entered youth's room "looking for firearms, equipment that might be used to chain fences, bombs or bomb making materials and [a] black notebook or journal" that they had been informed contained plans for a school shooting. One of the officers found a black journal in an outside pocket of the canvas guitar case. The journal was held shut by an elastic band. The officer then ...


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