The Fourth Amendment in the Hallway: Do Tenants Have a Constitutionally Protected Privacy Interest in the Locked Common Areas of Their Apartment Buildings?
One afternoon, a police officer spots a man driving a Cadillac through a run·down neighborhood. His interest piqued, the officer decides to follow the vehicle. The Cadillac soon comes to rest in front of an apartment building, and the driver, Jimmy Barrios-Moriera, removes a shopping bag from the trunk and enters the building. The moment Barrios-Moriera disappears within the doorway, the officer sprints after him because he knows that the door to the apartment building will automatically lock when it closes. He manages to catch the door just in time and rushes in. Barrios-Moriera is already halfway up a flight of stairs in the common hallway and ignores the police officer when he identifies himself and indicates a desire to speak with him. Barrios-Moriera continues up the stairs and sets his shopping bag on the floor beside him as he hurriedly tries to open his door. The police officer sprints up the stairs after him and arrives before Barrios-Moriera can do so. He thrusts his hand into Barrios-Moriera’s bag and withdraws a rectangular-shaped object wrapped in tape. He then orders Barrios-Moriera to go into his apartment, where he arrests him for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.