United States v. Padilla

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Padilla et al.
LOCATION: An apartment on the North Side

DOCKET NO.: 92-207
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 508 US 77 (1993)
ARGUED: Mar 24, 1993
DECIDED: May 03, 1993

William C. Bryson - on behalf of the Petitioner
Walter B. Nash, III - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Padilla

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 24, 1993 in United States v. Padilla

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in 92-207, the United States v. Xavier Padilla.

Mr. Bryson.

William C. Bryson:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

This case calls on the Court to address the dimension of the so-called Fourth Amendment Rule of Standing as it applies to a drug-smuggling conspiracy.

The case comes from the Ninth Circuit on certiorari, and began when there was a stop on the highway between Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, of a man... Luis Arciniega... who was transporting a large quantity of cocaine.

The traffic stop has since been found to be an invalid stop, and we haven't challenged that, the validity of the stop in this Court.

What happened after the stop was that about... so far as the record reflects, about 5 minutes into the stop Mr. Arciniega consented to the search of the trunk of the car and the officers immediately found 560 pounds of cocaine.

Mr. Arciniega then cooperated with the investigation and that led to the arrest of each of the respondents and others, and they were all charged with conspiracy and various substantive counts under the drug control statutes.

The district court found first that the stop was invalid and second that each of the respondents had standing to object to the stop of Arciniega's car and the search of the trunk that led to the drugs, and then further found that the rest of the investigation had followed from those discoveries and therefore that the evidence with respect to the defendants had to be suppressed.

The court of appeals on the Government's appeal affirmed in major part.

The court held with respect to respondent Xavier Padilla and with respect to the two Simpsons that the district court's ruling was correct, relying principally on what we will call the joint venture exception to the standing rule, the joint venture application of the standing principle, and with respect to Maria and George Padilla the court said that a remand was necessary to determine whether they had standing under this exception, and with respect to the remaining respondent the court said that he did not have the standing of this exception.

The court's rationale essentially was that because the Simpsons

"had an interest in the car and also had a supervisory or control relationship with respect to the conspiracy and the activities of the conspiracy on the day of the stop, that they had standing, and because Xavier Padilla again, like the Simpsons, had a supervisory or control relationship within the conspiracy with respect to the transportation, that he had standing to object to the stop of the car. "

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Bryson, the Ninth Circuit, as you've described, went off on some notion of standing--

William C. Bryson:

That's right.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

--Acquired to address the privacy concerns of the Fourth Amendment by virtue of the joint venture.

If we were to think that that was not the proper focus, the briefs in the case address the new argument here that well, in any event, there's standing because of the property--

William C. Bryson:

Well, Your Honor, I--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

--At least, the possessory interest.

William C. Bryson:


Sandra Day O'Connor:

Now, do we have to deal with that here, or should we?

William C. Bryson:

I think you should, and here's why.

The Ninth Circuit referred to the expectation of privacy, but they were clearly talking about both privacy and property interests that were affected by the stop.

There's discussion throughout the Ninth Circuit's opinion, even though they use the term expectation of privacy, which isn't precisely the right nomenclature, but they use that term to describe what they clearly meant to say was at issue here, which was both the Simpsons' ownership of the car and therefore the effect of both the stop and the ensuing search on the rights, the Fourth Amendment rights in general of the Simpsons, and also the ownership interest.

John Paul Stevens:

But Mr. Bryson, the question presented in your cert petition says nothing about ownership as a justification.

William C. Bryson:

Well, Your Honor, we... in our cert petition, we address... we use the language that the court of appeals used.

Now, I think it is somewhat imprecise.

We probably should have specifically said property and privacy interest.

John Paul Stevens:

You probably should, but you said nothing about it and you relied entirely on the joint venture rationale in your question.

William C. Bryson:

Well, Your Honor--