Appeals court rules search legal even with parolee in jail

Idaho StatesmanSeptember 21, 2013 

Mark Lee Ellis

A parole officer and a police officer did not need a warrant when they found drugs, paraphernalia and child pornography inside a maintenance storage room outside the Boise apartment of Mark Lee Ellis, the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The three-member panel ruled that Ellis was still bound by a condition of his parole where he waived his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

Ellis, 44, claimed in his appeal that the evidence collected in that search should have been suppressed because his arrest and incarceration on an unrelated parole violation suspended the Fourth Amendment waiver in his parole agreement.

Fourth District Ada County Judge Deborah Bail found that Ellis' arrest did not terminate his Fourth Amendment waiver and the Court of Appeals agreed.

"If we were to adopt Ellis’s view of the statute, that the issuance of a warrant suspends the parole agreement, a parolee would be allowed to unilaterally suspend his parole agreement by committing a wrongful act, and then would be able to commit further parole violations with impunity," Judge David Gratton wrote in the nine-page opinion.

The search took place after Ellis contacted a neighbor and asked her to enter his apartment and removed the drugs, a pipe and the DVDs from the storage area, which could be accessed from Ellis' apartment. The neighbor contacted the defendant's parole office.

Ellis was charged in Januarty 2011 with 10 counts of possession of sexually exploitive material. Ellis pleaded guilty to two of the counts, but maintained his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence.

He was given an enhanced sentence because of a 2001 conviction on the same charge. Bail sentenced Ellis to 5 to 10 years in prison.

Ellis, who is being held at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, is eligible for parole in 2016.

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