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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 17, 2016

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Conviction of Felon in Possession of Firearm

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announces that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the district court in appeal no. 15-2576, United States of America, appellee, v. Cody Allen Nowak, appellant. 

Cody Allen Nowak was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The district court denied his motion to suppress and sentenced Nowak to 27 months of imprisonment and two years of supervised release.  Nowak alleged in his appeal that police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by searching his backpack without a warrant.   

Nowak was a passenger in the front seat of friend Harry Madsen’s car.  He had placed his backpack on the floor in front of him.  Madsen was pulled over by a Sioux Falls police officer because his license plate tags were expired.  While the officer was contacting dispatch, Nowak exited Madsen’s car and ran from the scene. 

Madsen gave the officer permission to search the car where the officer found Nowak’s backpack.  Madsen told the officer that the backpack belonged to Nowak.  Inside the backpack, the officer found a Hi-Point .45 caliber handgun wrapped in a bandana. 

Nowak moved to suppress evidence of the firearm alleging that the warrantless search of his backpack was a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches.  The district court found that Nowak had abandoned the backpack and thus had no privacy interest in its contents.  Nowak appealed.                    

In today’s published opinion, the federal court of appeals affirmed the decision of the district court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Mammenga prosecuted the case at trial, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Koliner handled the appeal for the government.

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Updated June 17, 2016