â€œIt was being used to circumvent case law and proper court procedure to obtain privacy information,â€ Seiders said. â€œThe police were using these local laws to avoid having to go through judicial review. I think thatâ€™s where it became abusive.
More than a decade ago, a group of hotel owners sued Los Angeles. Now their actions have caused reverberations in hotels throughout the country.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 22 in City of Los Angeles v. Patel that the police practice of asking for a hotelâ€™s guest registry without a warrant is unconstitutional.
â€œItâ€™s certainly providing privacy protection and extending it to companies, both to the company owner and the guests that are there. Itâ€™s certainly a win for the hotels,â€ Attorney Dana Kravetz said.
â€œThis is going to have widespread impact â€“ and already has had widespread impact â€“ on a host of cities and really the industry at large. Itâ€™s a powerful decision. It really sets it out pretty clearly as to what the police can or cannot do.â€
This ruling goes beyond Los Angeles as so many other U.S. cities have similar ordinances, said Kravetz, managing partner of Michelman & Robinson and chair of the law firmâ€™s hospitality group.
â€œItâ€™s really a great day for the hotel industry,â€ said Frank Weiser, the attorney for the group of hotel owners (Patel). â€œItâ€™s a great day for businesses throughout America.â€
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1L35AJP
In analyzing the searches and seizures from hotel rooms, the court recognized that whileÂ a guest is legally registered in a room, the hotel room is a temporary residence and thus, just like their primary residence, the guest is entitled to the same protections under the Fourth Amendment to their guest rooms in a hotel as they would for their primary residence.
Many municipalities have enacted ordinances that authorize local police agencies to enter a hotel during regular business hours and request an inspection of the guest register to obtain information as to who is in the hotel, when they checked in and their anticipated check out time, how long the guest has stayed in the hotel, manner of payment and private information given by the guest to the desk clerk regarding their home address, car license plate and drivers license information. The municipalities argue that such ordinances and warrantless searches are necessary to help stop prostitution and drugs or to ensure compliance with the length of time requirements for motel guests. Many hotel operators have allowed the police agencies to inspect the guest registers without objection as they did not want to be subject to arrest or citation for not complying with the police requests.
However, some managers have objected and have been convicted of failure to comply with the inspection request. They argue that the police need a warrant to search the hotel registers and further, that the ordinances are not specifically limited to time, scope and duration of the inspection allowed or an opportunity to seek judicial review of the ordinance before being subjected to arrest and conviction for refusing to comply with the police agency’s request.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1F1pS2t