Bailey v. United States

PETITIONER:Chunon L. Bailey aka Polo
RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION: 103 Lake Drive, Wyandanch, New York 11798

DOCKET NO.: 11-770
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 568 US (2013)
GRANTED: Jun 04, 2012
ARGUED: Nov 01, 2012
DECIDED: Feb 19, 2013

Jeffrey B. Wall – Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent
Kannon K. Shanmugam – for the petitioner

Facts of the case

On July 28, 2005, an informant told Officer Richard Sneider of the Suffolk County Police Department that he had purchased six grams of crack cocaine at 103 Lake Drive, Wyandanch, New York, from an individual named “Polo.” Officer Sneider obtained a warrant to search the basement apartment at that address; the warrant provided that the apartment was occupied by a heavy set black male with short hair, known as “Polo.” That evening during surveillance, officers observed two men -later identified as Chunon L. Bailey and Bryant Middleton-exiting the gate that led to the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive. The officers followed Bailey and Middleton as they left the premises in a black Lexus, and pulled the Lexus over about one mile from the apartment.

The officers patted down Bailey and Middleton, finding keys in Bailey’s front left pocket. They placed both men in handcuffs and informed them that they were being detained, not arrested. Bailey insisted that he did not live in the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive, but his driver’s license address in Bay Shore was consistent with the informant’s description of Polo. The police searched the apartment while Bailey and Middleton were in detention, finding a gun and drugs in plain view. The police arrested Bailey, and seized his house keys and car key incident to his arrest; later, an officer discovered that one of the house keys opened the door to the basement apartment.


Did Suffolk County police officers lawfully detain Bailey incident to the execution of a search warrant when officers saw Bailey leaving the immediate vicinity of his apartment before they executed the warrant?

Media for Bailey v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 01, 2012 in Bailey v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 19, 2013 in Bailey v. United States

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Kennedy has our opinion this morning in case 11-770, Bailey versus United States.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

This is Bailey versus the United States as the Chief Justice has just indicated.

The case began with the issuance of a search warrant for a place, but in the end, it concerns the detention of the person and the resulting seizure of evidence from that person.

The place to be searched was a basement apartment in a town in Long Island, New York.

An informant told the police he had observed a gun when he was there to purchase drugs for the man known as Polo.

This information was the basis for the search warrant for the apartment.

The police obtained a warrant and assembled a search team.

A few minutes before ten in the evening, two detectives were keeping the premises under surveillance.

The search team had not yet arrived, apparently.

While the search team was preparing to go to the premises, the detectives saw two men leaving the apartment.

Both men appeared to match the general description of Polo, and one of them later turned out to be Polo and he assumed Bailey, the petitioner in this case.

Bailey and the other men left in a car.

The detectives waited for that car to pull away and followed in their own unmarked police car.

They followed for a distance of about seven-tenths of a mile and for about five minutes.

The detectives signaled the men to stop and ordered them out of their car.

A patdown search of Bailey produced a set of keys which the detectives took.

Both men were put in handcuffs.

The detectives call for a marked patrol car to take the men back to the apartment, the scene of the search.

In the meantime, the search had taken place and had revealed guns and drugs in plain view in the apartment.

Bailey was then arrested and charged with federal drug and weapons offenses.

At trial, he objected to the admission of the keys found in the patdown search into the admission of certain statements that he made when he was first stopped by the detectives.

And it is the admissibility of that evidence which presents the issue here.

The United States District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Bailey’s detention and ensuing search were permissible as incident to the search of the apartment.

The question here is whether the rule that allows detention of those who are on the premises to be searched can be applied to persons beyond the immediate vicinity of the search scene.

And this Court now holds that the execution of a warrant to search a premises cannot support the stop and detention of an individual who is away from the scene of the search because Bailey was not on the premises or in the immediate vicinity when the stop and detention took place, that stop, detention, and search of his person cannot be justified as necessary for the search of the apartment.

The Court has recognized that officers can detain occupants of the premises while a lawful search is in progress and even restrain those occupants in handcuffs.

The two principal cases discussed in the opinion in which — discussed that proposition are Michigan versus Summers and Muehler versus Mena.

Those cases go quite far, for they allow detention even without a particular suspicion that an individual is involved in criminal activity or poses a specific danger to the officers.

The detention is allowed in order to ensure the efficacy of the search.

And the interest that allow this detention includes safety considerations, so the officers can search without fear that an occupant will become dangerous or disruptive to the search, and so that the search can be completed without occupant’s hiding or destroying evidence and to preserve the integrity of the search by preventing flight of the occupants who are on the scene.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

A detention of a person to protect the search for those reasons, however, must be confined to those persons who are on the premises to be searched or in the immediate vicinity.

There would be no adequate limiting principle or a rule to allow detention of persons beyond the premises of the search.

A spatial constraint defined by the immediate vicinity of the premises being searched is required for detention under the Summers rationale.

And as these facts indicate, when detention occurs away from the premises, there’s an added public stigma and indignity in being seized in public, placed in handcuffs, and transported back to the place where the search is taking place.

For these reasons, it was error to admit the evidence based on a rule in Michigan versus Summers.

The District Court had held that an alternative basis for sustaining Bailey’s detention is the rule allowing certain stops and searches based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under our case in Terry versus Ohio.

The Court of Appeals did not breach the Terry issue and neither does this Court.

The Court of Appeals can address that matter on remand, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Justice Scalia has filed a concurring opinion in which Justices Ginsburg and Kagan joined.

Justice Breyer has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Thomas and Alito joined.