Massachusetts v. Upton

PETITIONER: Massachusetts
LOCATION: Environmental Protection Agency

DOCKET NO.: 83-1338
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

CITATION: 466 US 727 (1984)
DECIDED: May 14, 1984

Facts of the case

This case study deals with the application of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which regulates the lawfulness of the search of private premises and the arrest of individual persons by specialized bodies. When appealing against police actions, which are supposed to constitute an unconstitutional search or unconstitutional arrest, two issues must be resolved. The first question was whether police actions were "search" or "arrest". If this was indeed a search or an arrest, then the second question arises: whether such a search or such an arrest was "unreasonable"; among other things, it should be taken into account whether the court's authorization was received in advance to conduct a search or seizure in the form of a corresponding warrant.

In this case brief, the police received a search warrant for the defendant Upton, who was suspected of stealing jewelry. Information on their whereabouts was provided by an anonymous applicant, who in the course of the investigation turned to be an ex-girlfriend of the defendant. Reliability of the information was checked by the police and on this basis, a search warrant was issued. When carrying out a search at the specified location, the stolen items were found.

However, the case was seized by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the warrant was obtained illegally, which means conducting an illegal search, as well as inadmissibility of the evidence obtained. The court decided that the information submitted by the applicant did not have sufficient characteristics to be recognized as reliable since the girl could have personal motives and act out of revenge for breaking the relationship.