Carter v. Parris, No. 17-5498 (6th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Deputies responding to a call about a disturbance on county property peered into the car in which Carter was sitting with C.C. and saw “a bag containing green leafy substance” and rolling papers. Believing the bag contained marijuana, and learning that C.C. was just 13, the deputies obtained Carter’s consent to search the car and found another bag of marijuana. Carter had an apparent anxiety attack. After an ambulance took Carter away, deputies resumed searching; one picked up what looked like a dictionary, shook it, and realized it was a disguised lockbox. The deputy broke the lock and found sexually explicit photographs of C.C. and DVDs. Carter consented to searches of his apartment and his computer, where more images of C.C. were found. Carter admitted to taking pictures of C.C. and knowingly exposing him to HIV. Carter used the pictures as blackmail to force C.C. into sexual acts. Tennessee charged Carter with child rape, criminal exposure to HIV, sexual exploitation of a minor, and possession of marijuana. After denial of motions to suppress, Carter pled guilty. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals declined to consider whether Carter had consented to the lockbox search. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of federal habeas relief, rejecting claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Carter cannot demonstrate prejudice. Even if Carter’s counsel had made different arguments, the end result would have remained the same. Seeing a bag of marijuana gave officers probable cause to search. The Supreme Court makes no distinction between searching a vehicle and searching a container within a vehicle.