Maryland v. Garrison

RESPONDENT:Harold Garrison
LOCATION: Residence of Harold Garrison

DOCKET NO.: 85-759
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: Maryland Court of Appeals

CITATION: 480 US 79 (1987)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1986
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1987
GRANTED: Feb 24, 1986

Gerald A. Kroop – on behalf of the respondent
Stephen H. Sachs – on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case

Baltimore police officers obtained a warrant for the apartment of Lawrence McWebb and “the premises known as 2036 Park Avenue third floor apartment.” When they obtained and executed the warrant, the police mistakenly believed that there was only one apartment on the third floor. By the time they discovered there were two apartments, the police were already in the process of searching the apartment of Harold Garrison. During that search, police discovered heroin. Garrison was tried and convicted of violating Maryland’s Controlled Substances Act. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence of the heroin discovered during the search, but the trial court denied the motion. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed, but the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed.


If the police were unaware that there were two apartments on the third floor, does the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment prevent the use of a warrant to justify the seizure of evidence the police found in the second apartment?

Media for Maryland v. Garrison

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 05, 1986 in Maryland v. Garrison

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 24, 1987 in Maryland v. Garrison

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No 85-759, Maryland against Garrison will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This is a Fourth Amendment case that comes to us from the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland.

Baltimore police officers obtained and executed a warrant to search the person of one McWebb and “the premises known as 2036 Park Avenue, third floor apartment”.

At the time they obtained the warrant and at the time they started the search they thought there was just one apartment on the third floor of this multi unit dwelling, but when they get on the scene and when the search was in progress they realized that there were two apartments there.

The contraband that they seize and pursuant to the warrant was in the respondent’s apartment rather than in McWebb’s apartment.

And the question is whether that search and the seizure were permissible under the Fourth Amendment.

We hold that judging the validity of the warrant on the basis of the facts as existed at the time the officers applied for the warrant, and the validity of the search at the time it was begun and at the time they found the material that the actions of the officers was objectively reasonable and therefore there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Accordingly we reverse the contrary holding of the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

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