Jones v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Approximately half-way between Santa Marta, Colombia and Miami. Florida (by water)

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 257 (1960)
ARGUED: Jan 21, 1960
DECIDED: Mar 28, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Jones v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 21, 1960 (Part 2) in Jones v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 21, 1960 (Part 1) in Jones v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 69, Cecil Jones, Petitioner versus United States.

Mr. Henkin.

Louis Henkin:

Thank you Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Mr. Cecil Jones was convicted in the District Court of the District of Columbia for violations of the Harrison Act and he is now in the federal prison.

By timely and proper motions, he objected that all the evidence against him was unlawful, unlawful because it was obtained by unlawful seizure pursuant to an unlawful search, pursuant to an unlawful warrant.

The Government never claimed that the search was lawful, they never claim the warrant was lawful, but they said that it didn't matter and so for purposes of this part of our case, if it please the Court, we submit that we might treat the case as though the prosecution admitted that the warrant was unlawful and that the search or seizure were unlawful and that the lower court so held.

But they said, nevertheless the evidence did not have to be excluded and the conviction could stand because Jones did not show -- did not show the proper standing to object to the evidence.

He did not show the proper standing because in relation to the premises, he asserted only the qualities of a guest.

And in regard to the material seized, he did not show the kind of interest, the kind of possession which is necessary to sustain this standing.

Well, in fact if the Court please, as we will show Jones was the occupant to the apartment searched.

In fact, the Government in a formal document asserted that the Jones was the occupant of the apartment searched.

In fact, the Government tried and convicted Jones of possessing the narcotics which were seized.

Despite that fact, they said that Jones did not show his standing and so as a result --


Louis Henkin:

I think there's a slight difference between the Government and us on that question sir.

You read the Court of Appeals --

Louis Henkin:

As we read the Court of Appeals.


Louis Henkin:


In that event we submit it shouldn't make very much difference because if the Court of Appeals did what the Government in its Footnote suggested that we believe (Inaudible)

Are you in both -- are in both agreement, is that the whole statement (Inaudible)If we reach the (Inaudible)

Louis Henkin:

Petitioner certainly is and my impression from the Government briefs is that that is the case.

And so it seems that the petitioner --

Charles E. Whittaker:

May I ask you (Voice Overlap)

Louis Henkin:


Charles E. Whittaker:

It might act (Inaudible)

Louis Henkin:

If we get by the standing issue, Mr. Justice Whitaker, the question that remains to the decided is whether there was probable cause for the issuance of a warrant.

The only document before the Commissioner who issued this warrant sir is an -- is an affidavit and that affidavit is before the Court.

We submit and we believe the Government agrees that that kind of decision as to the adequacy of that affidavit to support the warrant is one which can be decided just as well by this Court.

It's not a jury question in any sense and there really no reason for sending it back to the lower court in these circumstances.