California v. Rooney Page 2

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

Arnold T. Guminski:

Our position is that it was not, and for two different grounds.

The first ground is that Mr. Rooney had abandoned the trash when it was placed in the communal trash bin of this apartment building.

That is, that trash ceased to be his or anyone's papers and effects within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was deposited in the trash bin.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Guminski?

Arnold T. Guminski:

Yes, Justice.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Is it true that under California law as articulated in the Krivda case, that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in abandoned garbage in California?

Arnold T. Guminski:

I think that it can be stated, yes, Your Honor.

But I cannot say that that is an absolute statement because the California Supreme Court has not ruled on a situation such as that in the instant case.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

But the indications are that California would recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy?

Arnold T. Guminski:

Yes, Your Honor, and that was the holding in the instant case by the Court of Appeals.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

I'm curious how that interfaces then with the inquiry we would make under the Fourth Amendment about whether a particular expectation of privacy is reasonable.

Do we... do we have to look at all at California law?

Or do we ignore that and make it purely a Federal inquiry--

Arnold T. Guminski:

We submit--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

--on what's a reasonable expectation?

Arnold T. Guminski:

--Justice O'Connor, we submit that this Court must use a Federal, national standard.

The question is whether an expectation of privacy is such that society is prepared to recognize it as reasonable, and the society in question is the nation as a whole.

If this Court were to determine the question of reasonableness by a particular state, one may not be speaking of the identical standard, because the state in question might impose a much higher standard than that required by the Fourth Amendment.

Antonin Scalia:

California may in fact have a higher class of trash than other states, too.

Arnold T. Guminski:

Yes, Your Honor.

It apparently is valued that when garbage is put in it somehow emerges when taken out by a police officer with an aura of respectability.

And the two grounds that we have just stated are such that the second ground, that is, a reasonable expectation of privacy ground, is inferior or subordinate to the first ground.

Because there can be no Fourth Amendment rooted reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to items which have ceased to be papers and effects within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

This Court, in Oliver v. United States, confirmed the ruling in Hester than open fields are note embraced by the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

And one independent ground was that this was precluded by the explicit language of the Fourth Amendment.

And this Court proceeded to note that Katz' standard reasonable expectation of privacy standard--

Thurgood Marshall:

You want us to extend the open fields doctrine to a basement?

Arnold T. Guminski:

--We are not speaking that it... the open fields doctrine extends to the basement, sir.

Thurgood Marshall:

Well, what are you saying?

Arnold T. Guminski:

We are saying that a basement, in the first place, is not within the curtilage or the house of Mr. Peter Rooney.