Blank Rome Secures Seventh Circuit Win on Behalf of Pro Bono Criminal Defendant Michael Thomas
A Blank Rome team secured a complete win on behalf of pro bono criminal defendant Michael Thomas in connection with an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The decision was issued on April 19, 2023.
The Blank Rome team sought a reversal of the district court’s denial of Thomas’s motion to suppress evidence that law enforcement obtained through a warrantless search of Thomas’s rented condominium—which he rented using an alias. Thomas argued the warrantless search violated the Fourth Amendment, but the district court disagreed. The district court held that by using a fake name to rent the condominium in violation of Georgia law, Thomas committed fraud that deprived him of any objective Fourth Amendment privacy interest in the condo.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the government violated Thomas’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that Thomas did not lose an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy by renting the condominium with a fake name, even if doing so might have violated state law. The court determined that Thomas’s motion to suppress should have been granted and remanded for further proceedings consistent with that outcome.