Academic journal article Missouri Law Review

Cotenants Trumping Cotenants: The Eighth Circuit Takes a Diverse Stance on Cotenants' Authority under the Fourth Amendment: United States V. Hudspeth

Academic journal article Missouri Law Review

Cotenants Trumping Cotenants: The Eighth Circuit Takes a Diverse Stance on Cotenants' Authority under the Fourth Amendment: United States V. Hudspeth

Article excerpt


Reluctantly, John Adams mailed the envelope addressed to his wife, Abigail, knowing the contents could bring about his death. This letter, mailed to his "dear friend," contained a description of his pleas for independence to the Continental Congress, a description that if located by the British, would most certainly subject him to charges of treason. Immediately after Mr. Adams dispatched his letter, he was approached by a British intelligence officer requesting to review the letter. Mr. Adams denied the officer's request and sent him on his way. Later, when the letter arrived to the unsuspecting Abigail, it was accompanied by a British officer who asked if he could examine the letter. Ignorant as to the letter's contents, Abigail consented to the request and the officer discovered the treasonous materials, resulting in the seizure of the letter and the subsequent arrest of Mr. Adams. Would our founding fathers have considered this particular exercise of police power beyond reproach?

While this fictional illustration is distinguishable from the more disturbing factual scenario presented in United States v. Hudspeth, it nevertheless embodies the same question: If two individuals have common authority over a piece of property, can government officials purposely ignore one party's express refusal to search and instead accept the consent of the other party? Hudspeth asks this question in the unforgiving light of the despicable acts of a pedophile; where a computer containing child pornography takes the place of John Adams' rebellious letter. In light of its deplorable factual setting, Hudspeth is a case which must be viewed with an objective eye. In doing so, it is helpful to keep the analogy of John Adams's letter in mind, as one may be, albeit unconsciously, predisposed to the persecution of pedophiles. Because Hudspeth is a case which not only implicates the rights of a pedophile, but the rights of all citizens who wish to object to governmental searches and seizures of their property, objectivity is essential to arriving at the correct conclusion.


On July 25, 2002, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, in cooperation with the Combined Ozarks Multi Jurisdictional Enforcement Team, executed a valid search warrant on Handi-Rak Service, Inc. ("Handi-Rak"). (2) During the process of executing the search warrant, law enforcement officers were confronted by Handi-Rak's CEO, Roy J. Hudspeth ("Hudspeth"). (3) Hudspeth was promptly briefed on the situation and informed of his Miranda rights by Corporal Daniel Nash ("Cpl. Nash"). (4) Initially, Hudspeth was more than cooperative--answering all the officers' questions and waiving his right to an attorney. (5) Further, when one of the officers, operating outside of the scope of the warrant, identified pornographic images on a compact disc next to Hudspeth's office computer, Hudspeth gave Cpl. Nash verbal and written consent to have the computer searched. (6) When the sanctioned search produced child pornography, Hudspeth explained that he had obtained the images over the internet and copied them onto the compact discs next to the computer. (7) He then pleaded ignorance to the officers, claiming he was unaware his actions constituted an illegal act. (8) The officers then inquired as to whether Hudspeth accessed child pornography on his home computer but Hudspeth refused to answer the officers' questions and explicitly denied Cpl. Nash's request to search his home computer. (9) Upon Hudspeth's refusal, Cpl. Nash placed him under arrest based solely on the evidence already obtained. (10)

Pursuant to his belief that Hudspeth's home computer also contained child pornography, Cpl. Nash and three additional officers proceeded to Hudspeth's residence. (11) Upon arrival, Cpl. Nash was greeted by Georgia Hudspeth ("Mrs. Hudspeth"), Hudspeth's wife, and the couple's two children. …

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