Illinois v. Krull

RESPONDENT: Albert Krull, George Lucas, Salvatore Mucerino
LOCATION: Action Iron and Metal Company

DOCKET NO.: 85-608
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 480 US 340 (1987)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1986
DECIDED: Mar 09, 1987
GRANTED: Mar 24, 1986

Michael J. Angarola - on behalf of the petitioner
Miriam F. Miquelon - on behalf of the respondent
Paul J. Larkin, Jr. - on behalf of the United States as amicus curiae supporting petitioner

Facts of the case

The state of Illinois required all who sell or scrap motor vehicles or parts to obtain licenses. That law also required anyone with a license to allow police to inspect their records at any time without a warrant. Albert Krull, George Lucas, and Salvatore Mucerino operated a wrecking yard. During a routine records inspection, police found four stolen cars on the lot. The men were arrested an charged with several criminal violations of Illinois motor vehicle laws. The next day, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the law that allowed police officers to inspect records without a warrant.

Krull moved to suppress evidence found during the search because the law that police officers relied on was now unconstitutional. As a general rule, any evidence obtained during an unlawful search is excluded at trial. Illinois argued that because the police officer acted in good faith, the evidence was admissible. The trial court granted Krull’s motion. The state appellate court vacated the judgment and remanded. On remand, the trial court maintained its original position and granted the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed.


Does the good faith exception to the exclusionary evidence rule apply when a police officer relied on a statute that was later held unconstitutional?

Media for Illinois v. Krull

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 05, 1986 in Illinois v. Krull

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear argument first this morning in No. 85-608, Illinois versus Krull.

Mr. Angarola, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Michael J. Angarola:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, the issue in this case is whether the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule should be applied to a warrantless search conducted pursuant to a presumptively valid statute later declared unconstitutional.

Petitioners' position is that the Illinois Supreme Court erred when it required suppression of evidence seized in the search of a junkyard, thus rejecting the state's position that the exclusionary rule should not be applied where the search was made in good faith reliance of a presumptively valid statute.

The Illinois statute is a comprehensive scheme regulating used auto parts and auto metal dealers.

That statute required that books and records be kept on the premises and that the premises of the yard, the junkyard, be available for inspection in order to determine the accuracy of the books and records of those kinds of businesses.

The Illinois statute has been in existence in one form or another since 1933.

The Illinois Supreme Court has not previously ruled on the statute but it has ruled on recordkeeping aspects of the statute.

The facts in this case are as follows.

On July 5th, 1981, a Chicago police officer went to the Action Iron and Metal Junkyard and there observed a towtruck bringing cars onto the premises and leaving without cars.

He entered the premises and identified himself to respondent Lucas.

He asked Lucas if the yard was open for business.

The Chicago police officer asked to see the books and records, and he asked to see the license of the premises.

Lucas said he could not locate them.

Lucas showed McNally, however, a yellow pad of paper that contained a list of approximately five vehicles.

The Chicago police officer asked if he could go onto the yard.

Lucas said go right ahead.

The Chicago police officer then recorded while on the yard vehicle identification numbers of cars on the yard.

He checked with the computer in the squad car and determined that three of the vehicles that he observed in the yard were listed as stolen.

Those three vehicles were taken from the lot.

A fourth vehicle which did not have any vehicle identification number on it was also taken from the lot.

Thus the police officer's conduct was objectively reasonable in regard to his time of entry, the manner of entry, the fact that he identified himself, the fact that he asked if the business was open for business, the fact that he asked to see the records, and the fact that he asked to go out onto the premises of the yard.

On July 6th, the day after the search in this matter, 1981, in a case unrelated to the instant search, the United States District Court held the Illinois statute unconstitutional because it did not sufficiently limit the discretion of police officers who had the authority to enforce the statute.

On September 25th, 1981, respondents filed a motion to suppress which was sustained.

The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's holding.

In affirming the trial court the Illinois Supreme Court erroneously applied the Court's case of Michigan versus DeFillippo cited at 443 US, a 1979 case.

DeFillippo is distinguishable from the instant case because the DeFillippo case involved the question of whether a Detroit ordinance later found unconstitutional, could form the basis of probable cause to arrest.


John Paul Stevens:

May I just ask a question about the Illinois Supreme Court's action in this case?

Is it not correct that by the time the case reached the Illinois Supreme Court Judge Schader's order in the Federal Court had already been vacated and set aside, and so the Supreme Court of Illinois had to make its own determination of the the constitutionality of the statute.