392 U.S. 364 (1968), 844, Mancusi v. DeForte

Docket Nº:No. 844
Citation:392 U.S. 364, 88 S.Ct. 2120, 20 L.Ed.2d 1154
Party Name:Mancusi v. DeForte
Case Date:June 17, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 364

392 U.S. 364 (1968)

88 S.Ct. 2120, 20 L.Ed.2d 1154




No. 844

United States Supreme Court

June 17, 1968

Argued April 25, 1968




The Nassau County District Attorney issued a subpoena duces tecum to the Union of which respondent was an officer calling for the production of certain books and records. The Union refused to comply, and the state officials, without a warrant, seized union records from an office shared by respondent and several other union officials despite the protests of respondent, who was present in the office and had custody of the papers at the time of seizure. The seized materials were admitted at his trial for conspiracy, coercion, and extortion, and he was convicted. The federal District Court denied a writ of habeas corpus, but the Court of Appeals reversed and directed that the writ issue on the ground that respondent's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the search and seizure. and that the materials were inadmissible under Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643. Respondent argues for affirmance on this ground alone.


1. One has standing to object to a search of his office, as well as of his home, and respondent was entitled to expect that records in his custody at his office in union headquarters would not be taken without his permission or that of his union superiors, whether he occupied a "private" office or shared one with other union officials. Respondent thus had standing to object to the admission of the seized papers at his trial. Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257. Pp. 367-370.

2. The warrantless search of respondent's office was unreasonable under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as the subpoena duces tecum, issued by the District Attorney himself, does not qualify as a valid search warrant, and this search comes within no exception to the rule requiring a warrant. Pp. 370-372.

379 F.2d 897, affirmed.

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HARLAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1959, the respondent, Frank DeForte, a vice-president of Teamsters Union Local 266, was indicted in Nassau County, New York, on charges of conspiracy, coercion, and extortion, it being alleged that he had misused his union office to "organize" owners of juke boxes and compel them to pay tribute. Prior to the return of the indictment, the Nassau County District Attorney's office issued a subpoena duces tecum to Local 266, calling upon it to produce certain books and records. The subpoena was served upon the Union at its offices. When the Union refused to comply, the state officials who had served the subpoena conducted a search and seized union records from an office shared by DeForte and several other union officials. The search and seizure were without a warrant, and took place despite the protests of DeForte, who was present in the office at the time. Over DeForte's objection, the seized material was admitted against him at trial. He was convicted.

On direct appeal to the New York courts,1 DeForte unsuccessfully argued, inter alia, that the seized material was constitutionally inadmissible in state proceedings under the rule laid down in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, because the search and seizure occurred without a warrant.2 DeForte subsequently brought a federal habeas

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corpus proceeding, in which he made the same contention. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York denied the writ, 261 F.Supp. 579, but, on appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and directed that the writ issue. 379 F.2d 897. We granted certiorari, 390 U.S. 903, to consider the State's3 contention that the Court of Appeals erred in upsetting this state conviction. Concluding that the Court of Appeals was right, we affirm.


It is desirable at the outset to make clear what is and what is not involved in this case. The decision below was based solely upon a finding that DeForte's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, see Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23, 30-34, were violated by the search and seizure, and that the seized material was therefore inadmissible under Mapp. It is on this ground alone that DeForte argues for affirmance. Consequently, there is no occasion to consider whether DeForte might successfully have asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination with respect to the use against him of the seized records. Cf. United States v. White, 322 U.S. 694; Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361. Nor is there any need to inquire whether DeForte could have asserted a Fourth or Fifth Amendment claim on behalf of the Union, for he did not do so. Moreover, this is not a case in which it is necessary to decide whether the traditional doctrine that Fourth Amendment rights

are personal rights, and . . . may be enforced by exclusion of evidence only at the instance of one whose own protection was infringed by the search and seizure,

Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, at 389, should be modified. Cf. id. at 390, n. 12. For DeForte claims

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that, under the traditional rule, he does have standing to challenge the admission against him at trial of union records seized from the office where he worked. The questions for decision, then, are whether DeForte has Fourth Amendment standing to object to the seizure of the records and, if so, whether the search was one prohibited by the Fourth Amendment.


We deal, first, with the question of "standing." The Fourth Amendment guarantees that

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

The papers which were seized in this case belonged not to DeForte, but to the Union. Hence, DeForte can have personal standing only if, as to him, the search violated the "right of the people to be secure in their . . . houses. . . ."4 This Court has held that the word "houses," as it appears in the Amendment, is not to be taken literally, and that the protection of the Amendment may extend to commercial premises. See, e.g., See v. Seattle, 387 U.S. 541; Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385.

Furthermore, the Amendment does not shield only those who have title to the searched premises. It was

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settled even before our decision in Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, that one with a possessory interest in the premises might have standing. See, e.g., United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48. In Jones, even that requirement was loosened, and we held that

anyone legitimately on premises where a search occurs may challenge its legality . . . when its fruits are proposed to be used against him.

362 U.S. at 267.5 The Court's recent decision in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, also makes it clear that capacity to claim the [88 S.Ct. 2124] protection of the Amendment depends not upon a property right in the invaded place, but upon whether the area was one in which there was a reasonable expectation of freedom from governmental intrusion. See 389 U.S. at 352. The crucial issue, therefore, is whether, in light of all the circumstances, DeForte's office was such a place.

The record reveals that the office where DeForte worked consisted of one large room, which he shared with several other union officials. The record does not show from what part of the office the records were taken, and DeForte does not claim that it was a part reserved for his exclusive personal use. The parties have stipulated that DeForte spent "a considerable amount of...

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