Morales v. New York

LOCATION: Symphony Cinema, Boston, Massachusetts

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)

CITATION: 396 US 102 (1969)
ARGUED: Nov 20, 1969
DECIDED: Dec 08, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Morales v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 20, 1969 in Morales v. New York

Warren E. Burger:

Number 86, Morales against New York.

Richard T. Farrell:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Richard T. Farrell for the petitioner, Melvin Morales.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Farrell.

Richard T. Farrell:

Your Honors, this case comes to this Court.

The writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of the State New York which Court held that certain police activity founded upon less than probable cause, do not constitute a violation of the defendant's rights under the Fourth Amendment and did not in fact the confessions yielded by the defendant after he resist as we contend in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The facts in this case are fairly simply set forth early in the morning of October 4, 1964 in Bronx County, New York.

Mrs. Adi Brown died of multiple stab wounds, 31 to exact, and looked upon her by at that time an unknown assailant in elevator in a 21-storey-apartment house in a public housing project in the South Bronx.

Police efforts at the scene at that time on October 4th yielded no leads.

But on October 5, 1964, Detective Aubrey Ferguson was walking on the vicinity of the scene of the crime and met Mrs. Rebecca Morales who is the mother of the petitioner here Melvin Morales.

Detective Ferguson knew the Morales family but knew them at a different address.

He asked Mrs. Morales, “What are you doing here?”

She said, “Oh, I live there," pointing to the building in which the crime had been committed.

The police also, sometime after October 5th, had information from a young man who testified on the trial that he had been outside the premises where the crime was committed had seen someone outside the building at the pertinent time.

Potter Stewart:

Could that be the very young boy?

Richard T. Farrell:

Yes, that's Everett Roberts, Mr. Justice Stewart whose testimony, the District Attorney abandoned in the submission by the time, it's very unusual, we try this case in the Supreme Court.

They finished cross-examining this young fellow.

Here, the crime being committed sometime in October or November or December of 1964.

And I doubt very much if he could've given a description much better than that available by looking at page 1320 of the record of Morales as a skinny Puerto Rican which is a fairly active description of a great number of people in the South Bronx.

But on October 11th, the police, to quote again from the testimony of Detective Ferguson about page 742 in the record said, “We rounded up some of the neighborhood narcotics addicts, and probably did do to about October 11, 1964.

The police officers came to the conclusion that Morales who did not live in the building with his mother.

They found that he was an inhibitory of the neighborhood not seen around by who we don't know exactly but it appears where these narcotics addicts have all rounded up on the 11th.

And the police then concentrated the records on trying to find Melvin Morales to talk to.

The principal thrust to their evidence was to contact his mother, Mrs. Morales, Rebecca Morales, telling her that they were interested in speaking to Melvin.

Warren E. Burger:

Now, if instead of this phrase that you said the detective used to describe their process of getting this information.

If instead of that, a dozen detectives or 24 detectives had walk up and down the street talking to every narcotic addict and the others of that world and got the same information.

Would you say, that the case is different or the same?

Richard T. Farrell:

Well, Mr. Chief Justice, I attached those significance, the fact that the officer, we rounded up these other narcotics addicts.

Unlike the --

Warren E. Burger:

Oh, I -- I assume that you did when you emphasized that phrase so much.