Segura v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Hishon & King Atlanta Office

DOCKET NO.: 82-5298
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 796 (1984)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1983
DECIDED: Jul 05, 1984

Mr. Andrew L. Frey - on behalf of the Respondent
Peter J. Fabricant - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

A group of people working in New York was suspected of illegal drug trafficking. In this case, the plaintiff Segura and his accomplices were subjected to a search for narcotic substances. The search was carried out in two stages. At the first stage, the authorized bodies searched and found narcotic substances having the authority only to visit the premises. The collected evidence was submitted to the court, but the court found that they had been received illegally, and therefore can not be taken into account when considering the case. The court relied on the provision of the Constitution on the inviolability of private property without sufficient grounds and permissive documents. At the second stage of the investigation, the search was carried out already in the presence of a corresponding warrant.

This decision allowed to legislatively delineating the powers of the police at the entrance to the premises, even if it is suspected that illegal substances are in it or people who are in it may be involved in illegal activities. Thus, the court clearly delineated the permission to enter the premises and the permit to search the premises, having established that in the first case the search can not be made, whereas the second case implies permission to enter and search the premises simultaneously. In solving this case, the court relied only on recollected evidence, thereby creating an additional precedent on the admissibility of evidence.


Media for Segura v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1983 in Segura v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments first this morning in Segura against the United States.

Mr. Fabricant.

Peter J. Fabricant:

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

On February 12, 1981 law enforcement officials forceably entered the home of the Petitioners.

At the time of the entry the police had no search warrant or arrest warrant nor the consent of any of the occupants.

No exigent circumstances existed which could justify the actions of the police.

The only excuse for the entry was the belief by the police that contraband was concealed within the dwelling.

Having once violated the privacy of the home the police removed all of the occupants and remained there by themselves for a continuous period of some 19 hours.

Thereafter the police obtained a search warrant based on knowledge they possessed many hours before the entry and occupation, and upon execution of the warrant contraband was discovered secreted within the premises.

The question before this Court is whether that contraband should be suppressed.

We respectfully submit that the unlawful entry into, seizure and 19 hour continuous occupation of the Petitioners' home constituted a seizure under the Fourth Amendment not only of the home but of its contents.

Since the actions of the police constituted a seizure of the contraband before the search warrant was ever obtained any doctrine of attenuation under the exclusionary rule would not apply in this case, and in fact the purposes of the exclusionary rule would be achieved by its application here.

The facts are not in doubt.

On February 12, 1981 in New York City at about 5:30 in the afternoon the police observed what appeared to them to be a drug transaction on the streets of Queens, New York.

At 6:30, an hour later, they telephoned the United States Attorneys' Office for the Eastern District of New York to make inquiries about perhaps arresting the Petitioners and getting a search warrant to search their apartment in Queens, New York.

They were told by an Assistant United States Attorney at 6:30 in the evening that the magistrate was not around, and he suggested or directed the police to go to the premises, the apartment building, to arrest the Petitioners if they saw them and to secure the premises from the outside.

The Assistant United States Attorney further directed the agents not to enter the apartment unless exigent circumstances should occur.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Where did all of this take place?

On Long Island?

Peter J. Fabricant:

It occurred in Queens, New York, part of New York City.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Only one magistrate up there?

Peter J. Fabricant:


In the Eastern District of New York there are 14 District Court judges and 4 magistrates.

There is always a District Court judge that is on emergency duty and available to sign warrants at any time, and there is also one of the four magistrates is also on emergency duty so as to sign warrants.

Harry A. Blackmun:

What day of the week was February 12?

Peter J. Fabricant:

It was not a holiday.

It was in the middle of the week.

It was not a Friday or a holiday, Your Honor, or the weekend.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Do you feel that had the magistrate known of the 18 or 19 hour occupancy of the home that his action would have been any different?

Peter J. Fabricant:

When he finally signed the warrant the next day?