408 U.S. 224 (1972), 71-517, Combs v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 71-517
Citation:408 U.S. 224, 92 S.Ct. 2284, 33 L.Ed.2d 308
Party Name:Combs v. United States
Case Date:June 26, 1972
Court:United States Supreme Court

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408 U.S. 224 (1972)

92 S.Ct. 2284, 33 L.Ed.2d 308



United States

No. 71-517

United States Supreme Court

June 26, 1972

Argued April 11, 1972




Petitioner was convicted of receiving, possessing, and concealing whiskey known by him to have been stolen from an interstate shipment. Prior to his trial, the District Court had denied a motion to suppress the whiskey from evidence on the contention that there had been no showing of probable cause to support issuance of the warrant authorizing the search for the whiskey. The petitioner raised only the validity of the warrant on his appeal, but the Court of Appeals held that he lacked standing to challenge the legality of the search, which had occurred on his father's farm where petitioner was not living or present at the time of the search.

Held: Since the Government now suggests that the warrant was invalid, and since the record is inadequate for a determination of whether petitioner had an interest in the searched premises that would afford him standing under Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, to challenge the legality of the search, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings.

46 F.2d 515, vacated and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.


We granted certiorari on claims that evidence introduced against petitioner was obtained through an unlawful search that petitioner has standing to challenge. The Government now suggests that the warrant authorizing the search was invalid, but that further factual determinations

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are required to resolve the question of petitioner's standing to challenge the admission in evidence of the allegedly stolen goods seized 'by Government agents.

Petitioner and his father were convicted after a joint trial1 under an indictment charging them with having violated 18 U.S.C. § 6592 by receiving, possessing, and concealing 26 cases of tax-paid whiskey known by them to have been stolen from an interstate shipment. The Government's evidence at trial tended to show that petitioner delivered 40 cases of whiskey to the Newport, Kentucky, home of a Mrs. Ballard, who had previously expressed her willingness to buy it. The day after the delivery, Mrs. Ballard, having sold some of the whiskey but having thereafter heard that it was stolen property, telephoned petitioner and told him to remove the remainder of the whiskey from her home. Petitioner and one Martin then moved the whiskey to the home of petitioner's estranged wife; a few days later, however, petitioner telephoned Martin and told him that "the heat was on" and the whiskey would have to be moved once again. The two men then transported the whiskey to

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Hazard, Kentucky, where they stored it in a shed on a farm owned by petitioner's father.

Sometime later, Martin told an FBI agent of the stolen whiskey; when the agent in turn passed the information on to the Kentucky state police, the latter obtained a warrant authorizing a search for, and seizure of, the whiskey at the property of petitioner's father. The warrant was supported by an affidavit, which the Government now suggests was insufficient under the holding of Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108 (1964). Armed with that warrant, the state police went to the farm owned by petitioner's father and conducted a search, which led to the discovery and seizure of 26 cases of whiskey identified as having been stolen from a railroad shipment intended for delivery to the Michigan Liquor Control Board. Petitioner was not living on his father's property, nor was he...

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