Oklahoma v. Castleberry

RESPONDENT: Castleberry
LOCATION: New Mexico State Police Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 83-2126
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 471 US 146 (1985)
ARGUED: Mar 20, 1985
DECIDED: Apr 01, 1985

Charles Foster Cox - on behalf of the respondent
David William Lee - on behalf of the petitioner
David W. Lee - on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Oklahoma v. Castleberry

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 20, 1985 in Oklahoma v. Castleberry

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Oklahoma against Castleberry and Raineri.

Mr. Lee, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

David William Lee:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court, the issues in this case which primarily arise under the principles announced by this Court in United States versus Ross are as follows: first, whether there was probable cause to believe that the defendants' vehicle in this case contained contraband, and secondly, assuming there was such probable cause, whether the police acted properly in searching without a search warrant three suitcases in the trunk of the car and the bandaid box which was found on the dashboard of the car.

Of course, the state contends that the answer to these questions is in the affirmative.

The facts in the present case are that at noon on the day in question, Officer Taylor, a narcotics officer with the Oklahoma City Police Department, received a telephone call from a confidential informant.

The informant stated that he had been within the room in question, Room 113, within the last ten hours and had observed a large quantity of marijuana, some cocaine, and some other white pills.

The informant stated that some of the drugs in question were in a blue suitcase.

The informant gave the officer a description of the men that were in the room.

The informant also stated that one of the names of the men who were in the room was named Tim Castleberry, and that the other man was named Nick.

The informant stated that these men were driving a blue 1980 or '81 Thunderbird with Florida license plates.

Officer Taylor took this information and immediately proceeded to the motel in question, which is located on an interstate highway in Oklahoma City--

Warren E. Burger:

Didn't the informant add a little more, that they were carrying this material in suitcases that were a particular color?

David William Lee:

--Yes, Your Honor, the informant specifically told the officer that some of the narcotics was in a blue suitcase which was... which the informant stated that he had observed in the last ten hours.

Officer Taylor drove to the motel, went in, and drove through the parking lot and observed parked in front of Room 113, the room which the informant had referred to, he noticed parked immediately in front of the room a blue 1980 or '81 Thunderbird with Florida license plates.

Taylor parked his car, went in, and found out from the room clerk that the room was registered to Tim Castleberry, which is the name of the person referred to by the informant.

He said Castleberry had paid for only the previous night, and that checkout time was at 1:00 p.m., and that he would be leaving at 1:00 p.m. At this time, it was approximately ten minutes until l: 00 o'clock.

The officer then returned to the car, which was approximately five space away from the blue Thunderbird, and called for a backup.

While waiting there for his backup to arrive, he observed the defendant Castleberry come from Room 113 carrying a blue suitcase which matched the description of the one given to him by the informant which stated that some of the narcotics were in that particular suitcase.

Taylor watched him put the blue suitcase in the trunk of the Thunderbird.

He then saw the defendant Raineri also leave Room 113 carrying two green plaid suitcases, which he also observed him place these in the trunk of the car.

He then observed Castleberry come out of the room a second time and place a blue suitcase in the back seat of the car behind the driver's side.

At this time Officer Taylor felt like he needed to take action.

He got out of the car.

He drew his gun.

He approached the two men.

He advised them he was an Oklahoma City police officer.

He stated that... he had his badge displayed and his gun pulled.

He asked both men to place their hands on the car.

It should be noted that there was a third person come out of the room who at this time stated,

"I am not involved in any of this. "