The New Mexico Court of Appeals departed from federal precedent this week in siding with a defendant who argued that a police inventory search of a locked gun safe in his vehicle violated his state protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

In a matter of first impression, the appellate panel reversed the decision of San Juan County District Court Judge John A. Dean Jr., who denied defendant Leo Jim’s motion to suppress evidence found inside the once-locked safe during a vehicle inventory search, according to the court’s opinion filed Tuesday.

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