Beck v. Ohio

LOCATION: Criminal District Court, Parish of New Orleans

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 379 US 89 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 15, 1964
DECIDED: Nov 23, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Beck v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1964 in Beck v. Ohio

Earl Warren:

Number 18, William Beck, Petitioner, versus Ohio.

Mr. Beck you may proceed with your argument.

James R. Willis:

Mr. Willis.

Earl Warren:

Beg your pardon, Mr. Willis?

Oh yes, I beg your pardon.

James R. Willis:

Mr. Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The issues involved in this case are indeed most significant in view of some of the decisions in this Court, more specifically Mapp versus Ohio and Ker versus California.

It is of course beyond dispute as has been said but that the Constitution does prohibit the use by state courts of evidence seized in violation of that instrument.

Further, Ker, further begets the idea that the standards to be used are those that have been developed under the Fourth Amendment in cases decided in this Court.

In the situation involving Mr. Beck, the evidence is very simple.

The police officers testified that they had the information from an unnamed and undisclosed informer that William Beck was engaged in the violation of the statute which prohibited a numbers operation, this statute having various ramifications.

The officer testified that they had received this information in the morning and that they left the police station for the purpose of arresting William Beck on sight.

Byron R. White:

Did the officer testify that the informer also said or also suggested where the defendant would engage in the sense that he --?

James R. Willis:

There's no specific evidence in the record which supports that notion.

However, it is a fact that William Beck lived in the vicinity where he was arrested.

And the information that the officer related and of course we did not go into that because of the Court's ruling which obviously was not going to permit us to bring this informer in to actually determine whether or not he even existed and we take the position that this situation as enunciated by the Supreme Court of Ohio in their opinion gives rise to the position that has been taken in our judgment by the police in Ohio that they can merely say they have information from confidential informers, and that we are precluded by the opinion in Beck versus Ohio to inquire as to whether or not he even in fact exists.

Specifically in this case, the officer testified that when he saw William Beck riding along the street that he stopped him and in our judgment that at this point this constituted an arrest if the Court meant what it said in Henry, this Court meant what it said in the Henry case.

They stopped William Beck and they searched him and at that time they did not find anything.

They further searched his car and this likewise did not divulge anything of any illegal nature.

Be that as it may, he was taken down to the police station and subsequently he was searched as they say more thoroughly and they found secreted in his socks --

Justice Bernnan:

Did they search him for something at the police station?

James R. Willis:

Apparently they were looking for something to justify.

Justice Bernnan:

Did they book him -- did they book him for anything?

James R. Willis:


After they had searched him he was booked for possession of the items that were found on his --

Justice Bernnan:

So he was not booked until after he was searched, is that it?

James R. Willis:

It's not clear in the record whether he was but they testified that they ar -- at the time they arrested him and in an answer to his specific question asked by me they said they arrested him by carrying on a scheme of chance which is a felony under the laws of the State of Ohio.

Justice Bernnan:

That was at the time they stopped his car that that was the purpose of the arrest then?

James R. Willis:


This was the testimony and it's in the record.