Michigan v. Long

LOCATION: Long's Vehicle

DOCKET NO.: 82-256
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Michigan Supreme Court

CITATION: 463 US 1032 (1983)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1983
DECIDED: Jul 06, 1983

David A. Strauss - Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal
James H. Geary - Argued the cause for the respondent
Louis J. Caruso - Argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

David Long was convicted for possession of marijuana found by Michigan police in the passenger compartment and trunk of his car. The police searched the passenger compartment because they suspected Long's vehicle contained weapons potentially dangerous to the officers. After a state appellate court affirmed the conviction, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the search violated the Fourth Amendment and the Michigan Constitution.


Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over state court decisions that rested on "adequate and independent" state grounds?

Media for Michigan v. Long

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1983 in Michigan v. Long

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Michigan against Long.

Mr. Solicitor General, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Louis J. Caruso:

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

This case involves the validity of a warrantless search of the Respondent and the auto passenger part of the automobile under his control and possession prior to his arrest for possession of marijuana and of the automobile trunk after his arrest.

The two deputy sheriffs were driving south on a country road in a rural area at midnight and the car that the sheriffs were driving was passed by another automobile going in the opposite direction and was clocked by a radar device at 71 miles an hour in a 55 mile hour zone.

The car was pursued by the two deputy sheriffs with pursuit.

In about five or ten minutes they lost sight of the vehicle for approximately five or ten minutes.

They did notice the tail lights go left off of the road that they were on and as they made the turn left to follow the car they found the car in the ditch.

The front end of the car was in the ditch.

The rear end was sticking out over the portion of the traveled road.

The entire incident lasted about five minutes.

There was no other traffic that was noticed in the area.

The police car approached the car in the ditch on the passenger side and they saw Respondent seated in the driver's side of the automobile behind the wheel and was the only occupant.

Respondent exited the automobile, leaving the driver's side door wide open with the dome light on, and met the two police officers at the rear of the automobile.

At that time one of the deputies asked Respondent for his driver's license.

The deputy did not... The Respondent did not respond.

He didn't say a word, he stared, and he was asked a second time by the deputy to produce his driver's license.

After a few seconds he reached in his wallet on his person and produced a driver's license.

Secondly, the deputy sheriff asked Respondent for the certificate of registration and this is required to be produced on demand under the Michigan Vehicle Code.

Again, there was no response and a few moments of staring and the second time he was asked for the registration.

At that time Respondent made a move toward the open door on the driver's side of the car.

He... One of the deputies was behind Respondent and the other deputy was at his side.

At the time they approached the door, the deputy saw a knife, a large, folded knife in plain view on the floorboard on the driver's side next to the door that was open and in front of the front seat of the car.

Upon seeing that knife, the deputy sheriff, one of the deputies, said, hold it, and he was then moved toward the rear of the car at the side window and with his hands on the roof of the car he was patted down by one of the deputies.

The other deputy at that point in time looked into the car.

He did not enter it.

He took his flashlight and he flashed in the interior of the car and as he did that he noticed the armrest... The front seat is divided by an armrest, divided in half.

He noticed something protruding from underneath the armrest.

At that point in time, he knelt in and again examined it more closely and he flipped up one side of the armrest.

As he flipped up the one side of the armrest, he noticed that this was a pouch of a sort that was open.