from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast
Central Judicial District, the Honorable Lolita G. Hartl
Carmell F. Mattison, Assistant State's Attorney, Grand
Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
A. Gereszek, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellant.
1] Casey Adams appeals from a criminal judgment entered after
a jury found him guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia.
We affirm, concluding Adams' argument that the evidence
at the preliminary hearing did not support the district
court's probable cause finding is moot. We further
conclude the district court did not err in denying Adams'
motion to suppress evidence because Adams failed to show he
had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the backpacks.
2] On June 24, 2016, police received a report of suspicious
activity in a Grand Forks parking lot. The caller reported
individuals moving backpacks from a Nissan into a Cadillac,
among other suspicious behavior. Three officers responded to
the scene. The officers testified they observed the
individuals displaying odd behavior, consistent with drug
use. One officer observed a blue container he believed to be
drug paraphernalia inside the Cadillac, indicating he saw a
crystal or powder substance on it and it was similar to a
container used in a separate drug related call less than 24
hours prior. Three individuals were in the Cadillac and Adams
was in the Nissan. No consent was given to search either
vehicle. Based on the observation of the blue container in
plain view, the officers searched the Cadillac and seized
more than 80 items relating to drug use.
3] Adams moved to suppress the evidence seized from the
Cadillac. Adams argued his Fourth Amendment rights were
violated on the basis that the search of the vehicle was a
warrantless search for which no valid exceptions applied. The
district court concluded Adams did not have a reasonable
expectation of privacy in the Cadillac or the containers
within the vehicle and therefore lacked "standing"
to challenge the search and seizure of evidence from those
areas. The court denied Adams' motion to suppress
4] In March 2017, the district court held a trial and the
jury returned verdicts of not guilty to possession of heroin
and guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia.
5] Adams argues the district court erred by finding probable
cause he possessed the drugs and drug paraphernalia at the
preliminary hearing. It is unnecessary to decide whether the
district court erred when it found probable cause existed to
bind Adams over for trial, because that issue became moot
when the charges were tried.
6] In State v. Montplaisir, 2015 ND 237, ¶ 16,
869 N.W.2d 435, this Court held:
[A] district court's decision at a preliminary hearing
that probable cause existed to bind a defendant over for
trial is rendered moot once the trial is held. A defendant
who is found guilty at trial may not, on appeal, challenge
the district court's decision on probable cause at the
we need not address Adams' argument alleging the district
court erred in finding probable cause ...