Friday, July 12, 1996

US Supreme Court Katz v. US

Decision here.

   This is the case which gave us the term "reasonable expectation of privacy."

   Katz was convicted of violation of gambling laws based on recordings of phone calls that he made from a public phone booth.  FBI agents had recorded these conversations using a device that attached to the outside of the booth (no intrusion into the booth = no search = Fourth Amendment not implicated, no warrant required.  According to the reasoning of the day, anyway).

   This decision spelled out that the Fourth Amendment protects people, not just places against unreasonable search and seizure.  In a concurring opinion, this decision describes that for invoking the Fourth Amendment "there is a twofold requirement, first that a person have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as 'reasonable.'"

Thursday, July 11, 1996

US Supreme Court Warden v. Hayden 480

Decided May 29, 1967

   I looked this case up because it kept coming up in my research on hot pursuit.

   Hayden committed an armed robbery at a taxi company, and two taxi drivers followed him home.  They relayed his address to their dispatcher, who relayed it to the police, who showed up at Hayden's home within five minutes of him getting there.  They knocked, Hayden's wife answered the door, and she offered no objection when the police made entry to search for a robber.  They found Hayden pretending to be asleep in an upstairs bedroom.  They also found a gun in a nearby toilet tank, and in a washing machine they found the clothes the robber was wearing.

   The Supreme Court upheld the warrantless search, because "the exigencies of the situation made that course imperative... The Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to delay in the course of an investigation if to do so would gravely endanger their lives or the lives of others. Speed here was essential, and only a thorough search of the house for persons and weapons could have insured that Hayden was the only man present and that the police had control of all weapons which could be used against them or to effect an escape."

   So there's that.  The interesting thing is that this was only a minor part of the decision.  Most of the decision has to do with establishing the government's right to seize evidence that only has evidentiary value, rather than also being contraband or the instrumentality of a crime.  Apparently, we couldn't always do that.

Monday, July 1, 1996

US Supreme Court Garrity v. New Jersey 13

Decided January 16, 1967
   Court case number 13.  :)  Apparently, the case numbering scheme has gotten a lot more complex since the 60's.

   Garrity was a cop, and he was one of several who were being investigated by the New Jersey Attorney General for fixing tickets.  Each of the cops involved was interrogated, and prior to their interrogation each of them were advised of the following: (1) that anything he said might be used against him in any state criminal proceeding; (2) that he had the privilege to refuse to answer if the disclosure would tend to incriminate him; but (3) that if he refused to answer he would be subject to removal from office.

   In order to keep their jobs, they waived their rights.  They made incriminating statements, which were later admitted in court over their objections, and they were convicted.  They appealed their convictions.

   The US Supreme Court held that making it a condition of employment for a public servant that they waive a constitutional right is coercive, and that therefore the waiver of the right is not free and voluntary.  Statements obtained this way may not be used in a criminal proceeding, and the decision of the lower courts was reversed.