California v. Rooney Page 16

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Media for California v. Rooney

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 25, 1987 in California v. Rooney

William H. Rehnquist:

Don't we have to assume that the Court of Appeals thought some of these things that are not in the record like whether the garbage truck came in or the container went out or whether the garage door was up or down made no difference?

That it recited in its opinion the facts that it thought were controlling, and the facts it didn't recite would not have affected its determination?

Arthur Lewis:

I have no quarrel with that.

Because what the Court did was to point out that the people hadn't established that the property was abandoned.

That was in the Court of Appeals' opinion, that the people had failed to establish that the property was abandoned.

They went one step further and pointed out that they weren't impressed with my particular argument that he had a heightened expectation of privacy because the trash barrel was within the curtilage; and went directly from there to the automobile exception.

Now, I don't object to law enforcement doing their job well.

And I have no quarrel with policemen who want to search trash.

Antonin Scalia:

This case has everything in it.

There's no element of Fourth Amendment law that isn't here.

We're into the automobile exception now.

Arthur Lewis:

We're in a garage where automobiles are kept.

Now, in the brief... and that, of course, is what the Court of Appeals did.

We're in the garage.

The recital of the facts by the Court of Appeals reflects that the officers saw Mr. Rooney drive into the subterranean garage.

So I think we're safe in concluding that, one, he did own an automobile; and two, he did keep it in the garage.

When we go to Dunn, which I haven't gotten to, other than to discuss the proximity, we talk about whether the area is included within an enclosure, and in the footnotes Your Honors have indicated that the actual enclosure is only incidentally helpful to this Court in determining whether it is or isn't within the curtilage.

And if I might just read from the footnote where the Court said: We decline the government's invitation to adopt a bright line rule that the curtilage should extend no farther than the nearest fence surrounding a fenced house.

Going on: The primary focus is whether the area in question harbors those intimate activities associated with domestic life and the privacies of the home.

It appears to me that one's personal papers... and incidentally, while--

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Lewis, supposing that this 28-apartment building had all been inhabited by a rather wealthy person and his staff of servants, this clearly would be within the curtilage in that sense.

But do you think, nonetheless, inhabited by 28 different people or different families, that when they have a communal area, that there isn't a point where the numbers mean you've lost privacy, even though it is not open to the public, or even though it's within the curtilage?

Arthur Lewis:

--I don't believe it's the numbers that give rise to the loss of the privilege of curtilage.

I think it's the nature of the activity that one is engaged in, and where one puts those personal, private papers one still does not want the world to see.

We all know what the Court said in Krivda as to why people may not want their neighbors reading their trash: dunning letters; subscriptions to communist literature at a time in our history when that was not a very favorable thing for one to do.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, you can take that kind of trash that you don't want people to... and bury it over in the park.

And that doesn't mean that you're free from having the police look over in the park.

Arthur Lewis:

Well, that's what the petitioner suggested in their brief, that we could burn it, that we could shred it, that we could throw it down our garbage disposal, or we could eat it.

I don't believe they suggested the latter; that's my suggestion.

I know not what else we might do.