Privacy Right in a Toilet Stall in a Public Restroom in New York

In People v. Mercado, 68 NY2d 874, 501 NE2d 27, 508 NYS2d 419 [1986], an unidentified man told police officers that two men were occupying a single toilet stall in an airport terminal. A police officer then entered the restroom and overheard two male voices from the stall (although he could only see one pair of feet). The officer stood on the commode of the adjoining stall and observed the two men, one holding an open glassine envelope of white powder. He searched the men after ordering them out of the stall and discovered bags of heroin on the person of defendant. The Court of Appeals held that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a toilet stall in a public restroom, as "the enclosure exists precisely to insure privacy and to shield its occupant from public view. Once the door is closed, an individual is entitled to assume that while inside he or she will not be viewed by others" (id. at 876 ).