Illinois v. Rodriguez

RESPONDENT: Edward Rodriguez
LOCATION: Residence

DOCKET NO.: 88-2018
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 497 US 177 (1990)
ARGUED: Mar 20, 1990
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1990
GRANTED: Oct 30, 1989

Joseph Claps - on behalf of the Petitioner
James W. Reilley - on behalf of the Respondent
Michael R. Dreeben - on behalf of United States as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioner

Facts of the case

A woman called police officers to a residence. She showed signs of having been beaten. She led police to another residence, where she said Edward Rodriguez was asleep inside. She alleged that he had beaten her earlier in the day. The woman had a key to the residence and referred to it as “our apartment” several times. She consented to a search of the residence and police entered without a warrant. Once inside, police found drug paraphernalia and containers filled with a white powder. Police arrested Rodriguez and he was later charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. At trial, Rodriguez attempted to suppress evidence obtained during the search, arguing that the woman did not have authority to consent to the search. The woman had moved out a few weeks before the incident and no longer lived at the apartment. With no valid consent, the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The court granted the motion. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed and the Supreme Court of Illinois denied leave to appeal.


(1) Is a police officer's good faith reliance on a third party's apparent authority to consent to a search a valid exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment?

(2) Did the woman possess actual authority to permit a consensual entry?

Media for Illinois v. Rodriguez

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 20, 1990 in Illinois v. Rodriguez

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in Number 88-2018, Illinois v. Edward Rodriguez.

Mr. Claps.

Joseph Claps:

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

This case is brought before this Court on the State of Illinois' petition for certiorari to the Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District, Third Division.

This matter involves the consensual entry into an apartment by the Chicago police to effectuate the immediate arrest of Edward Rodriguez for a brutal, aggravated battery.

In the course of the arrest controlled substances were found which were later suppressed by the trial court.

Illinois asks this Court to find that the court below committed error when it affirmed the trial court's suppression of evidence by failing to recognize that a police officer's reasonable reliance on a third party's apparent authority to allow consensual entry is a valid exception to the warrant requirement.

In this case, the police arrived at 3554 South Wolcott in Chicago, which was the home of Dorothy Johnson, the stepmother of Gail Fisher.

The police found at that location the victim of a brutal, aggravated battery.

They saw her jaw swollen, her jaw distorted, black eye and bruises on her neck.

They learned from this victim that the assailant in this matter, Ed Rodriguez, was at an apartment that she described as "our apartment".

She further told the police that this aggravated battery had occurred that day in that apartment that she described as "our".

She went on to tell the police that she would sign complaints for aggravated battery and allow the officers to enter that apartment to effectuate the arrest of Ed Rodriguez.

She indicated to the police officers that she would allow them to enter through the use of a key that she described as "my key".

She also told the officers that items of her personal ownership... furniture, stove, a refrigerator and other personal property... was still present in that apartment.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Did the officers ask her if she was currently living in the apartment?

Joseph Claps:

That specific problem... that specific question was not directly asked.

I believe in the record that's before you the police officer indicated that based, on what he asked her and her statements in describing the apartment as "our" and "their", that it was his belief that she was still living there.

That, coupled with the fact that the victim told the police officer--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

But he didn't ask that question?

Joseph Claps:

--He didn't ask that specific question.

That was his assumption.

Joseph Claps:

He had said that... he described what she said as using the words she "had been living there".

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Do you think that under some apparent authority doctrine that there would be an obligation on the part of the police if there is any ambiguity present to ask appropriate questions to determine the basis of the person's assumption of authority?

Joseph Claps:

We believe that the test should be an objective test of what the police officers knew and should have known in light of the facts and circumstances at the time.

In this particular case--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, can they proceed on the assumption that ignorance is bliss or do they have some obligation to inquire?

Joseph Claps:

--They have... they cannot proceed on the fact that ignorance is bliss.

I think that's primarily the ruling in Stoner v. California.

You can't ignore the fact that a person who is a motel clerk does not have the ability to gain... to give entry into an apartment.