LOCATION: Paris Adult Theater
DOCKET NO.: 71-651
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of California
CITATION: 409 US 33 (1972)
ARGUED: Oct 10, 1972
DECIDED: Oct 24, 1972
Roger S. Hanson - for respondents
Russell Iungerich - for petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for California v. Krivda
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 10, 1972 in California v. Krivda
Warren E. Burger:
We’ll hear arguments next in 71-651, California against Krivda and Minor.
Mr. Iungerich, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.
Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.
This case arises after the affirmance of the Trial Court judgment dismissing a criminal case after a motion to suppress had been granted in California trial’s court -- California Trial Court.
It was a People’s appeal.
The facts of the case briefly rose in this manner.
An anonymous female informant placed a telephone call to a Los Angeles police officer and informed him that two persons, named Roger and Judy were living at 1901 Nolden in Los Angeles and were engaged in narcotics activities and were also injecting Methedrine into two children living at that residence.
The officers verified that a lady named Judy Krivda was paying the utilities at that address.
By visual observation and going to that location, they saw two young children playing in the front yard.
They returned at a later date, approximately a week later, and observed several trash barrels next to the curb on the parkway awaiting pick-up by trash collectors.
They also observed trash collectors in the vicinity with a trash collection truck.
They intercepted the trash collectors and requested that the trash collectors empty the well of the trash truck and deposit these particular barrels into the well of the trash trucks, so that they would not be conglomerated with the other trash collected from the neighbors in that vicinity.
Then, a block away from the residence where the respondents, Krivda and Minor, were residing, the police examined the contents of these trash barrels within the well of the trash truck and in the contents of the trash barrels, they discovered four to six partially smoked marijuana cigarettes and other miscellaneous contraband narcotic material.
After this, the officers observed, respondent Roger Minor come from the house and retrieved the trash barrels and placed them on the front porch of the house.
At this point, the officers went to the house; they arrested respondent Minor, affected entry, conducted a further search, and ultimately arrested respondent Judith Krivda.
In this context then, two important questions arising under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States are presented here.
The first is whether Fourth Amendment protection extends to garbage in this case, which has been placed on a curb and for all intents and purposes appears to have been abandoned to the trash collector.
And secondly, whether under the circumstances of this case, the application of the exclusionary rule is constitutionally compelled.
With respect to the first issue, petitioners submit that this case is controlled by this Court’s precedents set in the cases of Hester versus United States and Abel versus United States.
In the latter case, Mr. Justice Frankfurter wrote that there is nothing unlawful in the Government’s appropriation of abandoned property.
And I submit to this Court that it is clear in the context of this case that this property was abandoned and that the respondents herein retained no further privacy interest protected by the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment.
Under the circumstances of this case it is clear that they were acts of abandonment, first by placing the trash into the trash containers, and secondly, those -- the abandonment of the trash was further confirmed by the fact that the barrels were placed upon the curb for collection by the trash collector.
And finally, I think we can draw a further inference of an intent to abandon by the fact that the residents of the house did not attempt to intercept these trash barrels when the trashmen came to collect them or in any manner attempt to retrieve them when apparently they were within the house, since Roger Minor was later seen to emerge from the house and retrieve the trash barrels.
I think in the context of this case, it is clear that privacy was at in end that the constitution protects through the Fourth and the Fourteenth Amendment, as the Fourth is applied to the states.
Basically, the fundamental proposition that a man’s home is his castle and the things around his house are protected or when we extend privacy beyond these fundamental principles, these fundamental areas, we get into a very tenuous area, where we don’t have a privacy interest, we don’t have annexes that connects the personal Fourth Amendment rights of the individual with the property seized or the place that is ultimately searched or the material that is ultimately examined.
I think that if we look at the text of the Fourth Amendment, it speaks in the possessive that persons have the right to be secured in their houses, papers, and effects that speaks of their papers and effects and that their portion of the amendment ceases, when property is abandoned.
You mean it’s no longer theirs?
It’s no longer theirs.
That’s correct Your Honor.
Well, I thought this was a possession prosecution?