Gooding v. United States

RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION:Detroit Public Schools

DOCKET NO.: 72-6902
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 416 US 430 (1974)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1974
DECIDED: Apr 29, 1974

Mr. Andrew L. Frey – for respondent
Herbert A. Rosenthal, Jr. – for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Gooding v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – February 25, 1974 in Gooding v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 29, 1974 in Gooding v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition in number 72-6902, Gooding against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

This case comes here on a writ of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That Court had reversed the decision of the District Court, which granted petitioner Gooding’s motion to suppress evidence found during a search of his apartment.

The search in question took place at 09:30 pm on February 12, 1971.

Members of the metropolitan police department had obtained a warrant from a United States Magistrate, which authorized them to search for violations of specified sections of the Federal Drug Laws.

The warrant specified that the the search might be carried out at any time of the day or night.

The search was conducted entirely by members of the metropolitan police department.

Prior to his trial on two Federal Drug accounts petitioner made a motion to suppress the evidence, discovered during the search of his apartment, contending that the application for the warrant did not comply with provisions of the District of Columbia Code, which he contended required a special showing of need in order to search at night.

The District court granted the motion, finding that the District of Columbia Code provisions were applicable and rejecting the Government’s argument that the search was valid under provisions of the United States Court, governing searches for controlled substances.

The Court of Appeals reversed.

That court, although somewhat divided in its reasoning, held that the United States Code provision, Section 879 (a) was applicable and that its requirements have been satisfied here.

We think that the Court of Appeals was correct in deciding that the Federal provision was the applicable provision in this case and we also agree that its requirements had been satisfied.

The warrant was issued by a United States Magistrate for violations of the Federal Drug Laws and the fact that it was sought and executed by Metropolitan police officers, does not by itself mean that the search should be governed by the local code provisions.

Judged by the standards for Federal Drug searches, we find that the warrant was valid.

Although the language of the Federal Statute allowing searches for drugs at any time of the day or night, if the Judge or a United States Magistrate is satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that grounds exist for the warrant and for its service at such time, might at first glance seem to require a special showing for night time searches.

We believe closer study of the language in the relevant legislative history do not support that reading.

We therefore hold that 879 (a) requires no special showing for a search at night other than a showing that the contraband is likely to be on the property of person to be searched to that time.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall have joined.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Brennan have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.