Ker v. California

PETITIONER: Ker
RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DOCKET NO.: 53
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 374 US 23 (1963)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1963

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Ker v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1962 in Ker v. California

Earl Warren:

George D. Ker et al., Petitioners, versus California.

Mr. Stanley.

Robert W. Stanley:

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

This case is on certiorari to the District Court of Appeal for California.

The petitioners were convicted of possession of narcotics.

The issue before this Court is whether the entry into the petitioners' apartment, their home, and the subsequent seizure of the narcotics, the evidence upon which they were convicted, over their objection constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of their constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Byron R. White:

(Inaudible)

Robert W. Stanley:

There is a question of the initial arrest.

There's a conflict in the inferences to be drawn from the evidence on that point, most certainly.

I think it's obvious from the record that the purpose of the entry of the police officers into the petitioner's home was for the purpose of searching the home in an attempt to find the narcotics they were looking for.

The respondents have raised --

(Inaudible)

Robert W. Stanley:

That's correct.

At the time that the case was tried -- the reason this question arises, at the time the case was tried, I don't think there was any question about the fact that the theory of the prosecution was at the entry into the petitioners' home was for the purpose of searching.

Nothing, unfortunately, was asked of the police offers directly what their motive is and what their purpose was of going into the home, but the only logical inference that could -- inferences that can be drawn from their conduct is that they went into the home for the purpose of searching.

And, we do have the benefit of the questions of the prosecutor at the time of the trial.

For example, the question that was asked of the arresting officer was, “Tell us in sequence and detail what happened after you entered the home?”

He said that they've got the key to the door from the manager of the apartment.

This took 15 to 20 minutes because the manager apparently was concerned and wanted to call his lawyer.

They told the manager that they were going into the apartment because they thought that there was some narcotics in the apartment and they wanted the key so that they wouldn't have to break the door down.

Then after going into the home, after entering surreptitiously without any announcement of their arrival, the petitioner, George Ker, was sitting on the couch and he stood up.

Now, the first thing that they said to him I think is also indicative in sequence and detail, exactly as the thing arose, of what their intention was.

They displayed their identification to him and said, “We're conducting a narcotics investigation.

We're Sheriff's Narcotics officers and we're conducting a narcotics investigation.”

Well, anyone who practices criminal law in the Los Angeles County, I'm sure knows what a narcotics investigation was, and I'll get into this a little bit later because I think one of the arresting officers indicated to us by his testimony what he considered an investigation was.

Right at that time, the petitioner, Diane Ker, the wife, walked from the kitchen and he had displayed his identification to her and said the same thing.

Then, he walked over to the kitchen.

Now, we don't know how far he walked.

We do know from his testimony -- from the officer's testimony that it was a large living room.

He walked over to the kitchen and, standing in the doorway, he was able to observe a bricklike brown package sitting on some small scales.