Florida v. Casal

LOCATION: Internal Revenue Service

DOCKET NO.: 81-2318
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Florida Supreme Court

CITATION: 462 US 637 (1983)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1983
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1983

Arthur F. McCormick - on behalf of the Respondent
Carolyn M. Snurkowski - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Florida v. Casal

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1983 in Florida v. Casal

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Florida against Casal and Garcia.

Ms. Snurkowski, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Carolyn M. Snurkowski:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The issue before the Court today is whether the search of the San Rafael was authorized pursuant to an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement of the United States Constitution.

The facts in this case are relatively simple.

On September 18, 1977, Officer Soli and Officer Walker, both Marine Patrol officers with the Florida Marine Patrol were traveling along near Sugarloaf Key which is close to Key West.

They were on their way back.

Their tour of duty had almost ended and they were returning to port when they came upon the San Rafael.

Within 50 feet of the boat they put their spotlight on the boat, and approaching the boat identified themselves as Marine Patrol officers and asked, at that point, if they could see the registration papers or the registration certificate for the boat which is required pursuant to Florida statutes.

At that point, two individuals who had departed the cabin area came to the side of the boat and produced papers.

Those papers did not comport with the statute requirement, but rather, were documentation papers of unspecified nature, and tax receipts reflecting the purchase of the boat.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

May I ask you something right here.

Now, does Florida law require every boat to have a registration certificate?

Is that clear?

Carolyn M. Snurkowski:

Those boats that travel in the waters and conduct fishing activities in that area, yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And does the absence of a registration certificate give a right for a valid custodial arrest?

Carolyn M. Snurkowski:

I believe it does.

I believe the statute... if there's a penalty, a second degree penalty for failure to have it aboard and available, upon that showing... the officers are not really... even having to board the boat is a matter of standing on their own boat and asking do you have it.

It's not a matter of having to board the boat in this instance.

And if it's not available they can, in fact, arrest the individuals because those statutes are very clear with regard to--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Is that statute part of our--

Carolyn M. Snurkowski:

--I believe it is part of the petitioner's reply to the brief in opposition to certiorari.

I think he can put that as part of his pleadings.

But specifically, the statutes applicable with regard to having the registration onboard is 371.051, Subsection 5.

And that's of the 1977 statutes.

There has been a modification, and so I do not have the change because I was looking specifically at the applicable statutes.

Once there was no response by the defendants for the certification papers, Officer Soli, because of the bobbing of the boats, asked if she could board the boat.

At that point, consent was given and she made a statement at the suppression hearing and at trial that the reason she was boarding was to help them find these papers and also, to conduct a search, to do her duty, is what she said.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

--Didn't she also say that really what she was inspecting for was illegal seafood?

Carolyn M. Snurkowski:

That came... there was a statement to that effect later on, but she was initially going onboard for was for safety inspection and to help them find the papers.