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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 2003, Jerome LeBlanc was convicted in a Louisiana state court of contractor misapplication of payments, a felony, and placed on supervised probation for five years. On July 29, 2004, Todd Cruice, a state probation officer, visited LeBlanc at his small house in a rural area near Pointe A La Hac in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. When Cruice informed LeBlanc that he had come for a home visit and asked if he could “look around,” LeBlanc did not object but showed him the entire house while pointing out each respective room and certain improvements he had made or undertaken. As they entered the kitchen, Cruice saw a pellet gun, which he inspected to verify that it was not a firearm. LeBlanc told him that he used it to ward off snakes and varmints in his yard. In response to Cruice’s question, LeBlanc stated that he did not have any other weapon in the house. The walk-through inspection resumed and LeBlanc directed Cruice’s attention to his bedroom. Cruice walked through the bedroom and inspected an adjoining storage room. As he turned back to leave the bedroom, Cruice saw in plain view what he immediately recognized as the barrel of a .410 gauge shotgun sticking out from under LeBlanc’s bed. Cruice retrieved the gun, opened it and found it loaded with a shotgun shell. When asked about his earlier denial of having any dangerous weapon on the premises, LeBlanc said he kept the shotgun, which had been his grandfather’s, for his own protection and to use on varmints on his property. Cruice then seized the firearm as evidence of LeBlanc’s violation of his probation. The home visit lasted for less than 10 minutes, while the “walk-through” portion lasted two minutes to three minutes. The district court found that Cruice “did not physically move anything, open drawers, or rifle through personal belongings; rather, he used only his eyes.” LeBlanc moved to suppress the gun, arguing to the district court that it was seized pursuant to an unlawful search. He contended that the probation officer exceeded the scope of the required home visit by asking to look around and that he did not have reasonable suspicion of a probation violation to support a search of the premises. The district court denied the motion to suppress, holding that the actions of the probation officer did not constitute a search separate from the home visit and that this visit was permissible under the Fourth Amendment, given the reduced privacy expectations of probationers. HOLDING:Affirmed. A probationer’s home, like anyone else’s, the court stated, is protected by the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that searches and intrusions upon privacy be “reasonable.” To a greater or lesser degree, the court stated, it is always true of probationers that they do not enjoy the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled but only conditional liberty properly dependent on observance of special probation restrictions. Consequently, the court stated, “reasonable restrictions upon liberty and privacy are allowed and are necessary to assure that the probation serves as a period of genuine rehabilitation and that the community is not harmed by the probationer’s being at large.” The court then set out to determine first whether Louisiana’s rules and regulations for furthering these goals were reasonably necessary and therefore constitutional and second whether Cruice exceeded the authority granted him under the applicable state standards. The court stated it would balance the interests of the government against the probationer’s diminished privacy interests to determine whether “special needs” justified the restriction. The court found that home visits, as defined as under Louisiana law, as a condition of LeBlanc’s probation and as conducted in LeBlanc’s case, did not constitute as invasive a burden on a probationer’s expectations of privacy as does a search. A probationer, the court stated, is subject to state supervision as part of the “special needs” doctrine, including verification of where he lives, and cannot expect to be free from “interpersonal contact” at his residence. “Were we to impose a requirement that a probation officer show reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before visiting a probationer at his home, supervision would become effectively impossible.” The court found that Cruice did not cross the line from a home visit to a search. He asked to “look around” and spoke casually with LeBlanc as he was led around the house and through the various rooms. As part of the tour, LeBlanc led Cruice to his bedroom, opened the door, and announced that the room was his bedroom, clearly implying his consent to the visual inspection by Cruice that followed. The walk-through lasted no longer than it took literally to walk through the home � roughly two minutes to three minutes. The gun was in plain sight as Cruice walked through the bedroom. OPINION:Dennis, J.; Smith, Barksdale and Dennis, JJ.

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