Stoner v. California

RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 376 US 483 (1964)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1964
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Stoner v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1964 in Stoner v. California

Earl Warren:

Number 209, Joseph Lyle Stoner, Petitioner, versus California.

Mr. Dempsey?

William H. Dempsey, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice may it please the Court.

This case is another search and seizure case that comes here on a writ of certiorari to the District Court of Appeal for the Second District of the State of California.

It involves applicability of the decisions in Mapp versus Ohio and Ker versus California to this particular state prosecution.

The search and seizure took place in a hotel room that belonged to petitioner.

The questions stated very generally are these.

First whether the search and seizure were valid because incident to a valid arrest; second whether the search and seizure are somehow validated by the consent to the search and seizure that were given by the hotel clerk; third whether assuming that the search might have been valid, the seizure was nonetheless invalid because the items that were sized were neither means nor instrumentalities for the commission of crime, nor contraband, nor the fruits of a crime and finally, assuming that the search or the seizure was invalid, the admission into evidence of the items that were seized was mere harmless error and then the further question of course whether if that be so, the conviction should affirmed or reversed.

The facts that bear upon these issues are not particularly complicated.

They may be summarized I think something like this.

The crime of which petitioner was convicted was a crime of robbery.

The robbery was of a grocery store in the City of Monrovia, California.

It took place about 8 o'clock in the evening of October 25, 1960.

Two men committed the robbery.

There were two eyewitnesses to the crime, employees in the grocery store.

Shortly after the police of Monrovia started their investigation of the crime, the manager of the grocery store turned over to them a check book and a deposit book, a bank deposit book, which were traced to the petitioner.

The check book reveled that two checks had very recently been drawn out to a hotel called Mayfair Hotel in the city of Pomona, California.

Potter Stewart:

Where this had this check book and this deposit --

William H. Dempsey, Jr.:

They had been found Mr. Justice Stewart in the parking lot, adjacent to the grocery store.

It's not clear whether it was the grocery store's parking lot, but in any event a parking lot adjacent to the grocery store and shortly -- they have been found shortly after the crime. That's about as clear the record is on that.

The Monrovia police contacted the Pomona police.

They got a mug shot of petitioner.

They found that he had a prior record.

He had been convicted a murder and robbery before.

They showed the mug shot to the two eyewitnesses, who said that this looked like one of the man who had committed the crime, but they wanted to see him in person.

So the Monrovia police went to Pomona, two days after the crime on the evening of October 27.

They conferred with the Pomona police for a while and then about 11 o'clock on the evening of October 27, two members of the Pomona force and two members of the Monrovia force went to the Mayfair Hotel.

Now what happened then is critically important in this case and so I will take the liberty of reading the pertinent extracts verbatim from the record.

This is one of the officers testifying at the trail.

He said -- this is on -- excuse me Mr. Justice, this is one page -- beginning on the bottom of page 71, about two-thirds of the way down that page, and I'm going to skip some of the intervening material, I'm not going to read the whole thing, I'm just picking out portions of it.