Wednesday, March 12, 1997

US Supreme Court US v. Robinson 72-936

Decided December 11, 1973.

   Officer Jenks stopped Robinson for driving on a revoked license (he knew his license was revoked froman investigation a few days earlier), and placed him under arrest.  During a search incident to arrest, Jenks found heroin Robinson's pocket.  Robinson was convicted, but the court of appeals reversed his conviction on the grounds that Jenks had no basis for believing that evidence of the offense charged (revoked license) would be found in a search.  The court held that for this reason, the search incident to arrest should have been limited to a pat down for weapons (like a Terry search), and the heroin should have been supressed.

   The prosecution appealed.  The US Supreme Court held that in the case of a lawful arrest based on probable cause, the person has been seized and a full search of the person does not need any further justification.  Although the preservation of evidence and the protection of the officer (particularly in light of the prolonged proximity with a suspect that accompanies a custodial arrest) are the underlying justifications for this exception to the warrant requirement, the court found that there was no need to actually articulate one of those reasons to make the search reasonable; the mere fact of the arrest does that.  The court of appeals was reversed.

   In light of this decision, Gant is all the more interesting.  But the authority to search a person incident to arrest has generally been more stable than the search of the area surrounding the person.  Besides, Gant was very much a case where law enforcement had it's card pulled by the court for trying to push our limits.

No comments:

Post a Comment