Terry v. Ohio

LOCATION: Street Corner

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 392 US 1 (1968)
ARGUED: Dec 12, 1967
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1968

Facts of the case

Terry and two other men were observed by a plain clothes policeman in what the officer believed to be "casing a job, a stick-up." The officer stopped and frisked the three men, and found weapons on two of them. Terry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and sentenced to three years in jail.


Was the search and seizure of Terry and the other men in violation of the Fourth Amendment?

Media for Terry v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1967 in Terry v. Ohio

Earl Warren:

Number 67, John W. Terry, et al., petitioners versus Ohio.

Mr. Stokes?

Louis Stokes:

Mr. Chief Justice and May it please the court.

State versus Terry comes to this court by virtue of a writ of certiorari granted to the Ohio State Supreme Court.

This case originally arose in the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County, based upon the indictment for carrying a concealed weapon, in violation of Ohio Revised Code, Section 2923.01.

The defendant in this case filed a motion to suppress the evidence, and at the trial there was a hearing on the motion.

After hearing the motion, the motion was overruled and the case proceeded to trial.

This was a bench trial, jury having been waived.

After hearing the evidence, the motion originally filed was overruled again.

The defendant was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon.

The trial court ruled an opinion in this case, and we then appealed to the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County.

This court sustained and affirmed the conviction of the lower court.

This court also wrote an opinion.

Subsequently, application was made to the Ohio State Supreme Court for review, and that court dismissed the application for review stating: no debatable constitutional question.

This court granted certiorari.

The facts in this case are these and I think they are signally important, if we are to try to arrive at the proper verdict, with reference to this case.

This incident occurred at 2:30 in the afternoon, in broad daylight in the downtown section of Cleveland, Ohio.

The police officer in this case, one Martin McFadden, noticed two Negro males standing at the corner of Fourteenth Street, in the City of Cleveland, where Euclid Avenue and Huron Road intersect.

These two streets, if the court please, form a triangle at the apex of East Fourteenth Street -- the police officer was approximately 100 feet away from where these two men were.

He positioned himself --

Potter Stewart:

What kind of neighborhood is that, generally, in Cleveland?

A business neighborhood?

Louis Stokes:

That is our downtown section, a business section of the City, Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

Downtown retail stores, and offices, and so on?

Louis Stokes:

Yes, Your Honor.

The testimony of the police officer was that there was business as usual in the downtown center of the city; stores were open and there were pedestrians on the street.

Potter Stewart:

What time of day was it?

Louis Stokes:

2:30 in the afternoon.

Potter Stewart:

On a weekday?

Louis Stokes:

On a weekday.