495 U.S. 14 (1990), 88-1000, New York v. Harris

Docket Nº:No. 88-1000
Citation:495 U.S. 14, 110 S.Ct. 1640, 109 L.Ed.2d 13, 58 U.S.L.W. 4457
Party Name:New York v. Harris
Case Date:April 18, 1990
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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495 U.S. 14 (1990)

110 S.Ct. 1640, 109 L.Ed.2d 13, 58 U.S.L.W. 4457

New York

v.

Harris

No. 88-1000

United States Supreme Court

April 18, 1990

Argued Jan. 10, 1990

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK

Syllabus

Police officers, having probable cause to believe that respondent Harris committed murder, entered his home without first obtaining a warrant, read him his Miranda rights, and reportedly secured an admission of guilt. After he was arrested, taken to the police station, and again given his Miranda rights, he signed a written inculpatory statement. The New York trial court suppressed the first statement under Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from effecting a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make a routine felony arrest. However, the court admitted the second statement, and Harris was convicted of second-degree murder. The Appellate Division affirmed, but the State Court of Appeals reversed. Applying the rule of Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, and its progeny that the indirect fruits of an illegal search or arrest should be suppressed when they bear a sufficiently close relationship to the underlying illegality, the court deemed the second statement inadmissible because its connection with the arrest was not sufficiently attenuated.

Held: Where the police have probable cause to arrest a suspect, the exclusionary rule does not bar the State's use of a statement made by the defendant outside of his home, even though the statement is taken after an arrest made in the home in violation of Payton. The penalties imposed on the Government where its officers have violated the law must bear some relation to the purposes which the law serves. United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268, 279. The rule in Payton was designed to protect the physical integrity of the home, not to grant criminal suspects protection for statements made outside their premises where the police have probable cause to make an arrest. Brown v. Illinois, supra, and its progeny are distinguishable, since attenuation analysis is only appropriate where, as a threshold matter, courts determine that the challenged evidence is in some sense the product of illegal governmental activity. Here, the police had a justification to question Harris prior to his arrest; therefore, his subsequent statement was not an exploitation of the illegal entry into his home. Cf. United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463. Suppressing that statement would not serve the purpose of the Payton rule, since anything incriminating gathered from Harris' in-home arrest has already been excluded. The principal incentive to obey

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Payton still obtains: the police know that a warrantless entry will lead to the suppression of evidence found or statements taken inside the home. Moreover, the incremental deterrent value of suppressing statements like Harris' would be minimal, since it is doubtful that the desire to secure a statement from a suspect whom the police have probable cause to arrest would motivate them to violate Payton. Pp. 17-21.

72 N.Y.2d 614, 536 N.Y.S.2d 1, 532 N.E.2d 1229 (1988), reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 21.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

[110 S.Ct. 1642] Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

On January 11, 1984, New York City police found the body of Ms. Thelma Staton murdered in her apartment. Various facts gave the officers probable cause to believe that the respondent in this case, Bernard Harris, had killed Ms. Staton. As a result, on January 16, 1984, three police officers went to Harris's apartment to take him into custody. They did not first obtain an arrest warrant.

When the police arrived, they knocked on the door, displaying their guns and badges. Harris let them enter.

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Once inside, the officers read Harris his Miranda rights. Harris acknowledged that he understood the warnings, and agreed to answer the officers' questions. At that point, he reportedly admitted that he had killed Ms. Staton.

Harris was arrested, taken to the station house, and again informed of his Miranda rights. He then signed a written inculpatory statement. The police subsequently read Harris the Miranda warnings a third time and videotaped an incriminating interview between Harris and a district attorney, even though Harris had indicated that he wanted to end the interrogation.

The trial court suppressed Harris' first and third statements; the State does not challenge those rulings. The sole issue in this case is whether Harris's second statement -- the written statement made at the station house -- should have been suppressed because the police, by entering Harris' home without a warrant and without his consent, violated Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980), which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from effecting a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make a routine felony arrest. The New York trial court concluded that the statement was admissible. Following a bench trial, Harris was convicted of second-degree murder. The Appellate Division affirmed, 124 A.D.2d 472, 507 N.Y.S.2d 823 (1986).

A divided New York Court of Appeals reversed, 72 N.Y.2d 614, 536 N.Y.S.2d 1, 532 N.E.2d 1229 (1988). That court first accepted the trial court's finding that Harris did not consent to the police officers' entry into his home, and that the warrantless arrest therefore violated Payton even though there was probable cause. Applying Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590 (1975), and its progeny, the court then determined that the station house statement must be deemed to be the inadmissible fruit of the illegal arrest because the connection between the statement and the arrest was not sufficiently attenuated.

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The Court noted that some courts had reasoned that the "wrong in Payton cases . . . lies not in the arrest, `but in the unlawful entry into a dwelling without proper judicial authorization,'" and had therefore declined to suppress confessions that were made following Payton violations. 72 N.Y.2d at 623, 536 N.Y.S.2d at 6, 532 N.E.2d at 1234. The New York Court disagreed with this analysis, finding it contrary to Payton and its own decisions interpreting Payton's scope. We granted certiorari to resolve the admissibility of the station house statement. 490 U.S. 1018 (1989).

For present purposes, we accept the finding below that Harris did not consent to the police officers' entry into his home and the conclusion that the police had probable cause to arrest him. It is also evident, in light of Payton, that arresting Harris in his home without an arrest warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. But, as emphasized in earlier cases,

we have declined to adopt a "per se or `but for' rule" that would make inadmissible any evidence, whether tangible or live-witness testimony, which somehow came to light through a chain of causation that began with an illegal arrest.

United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268, 276 (1978). Rather, in this context, we have stated that

[t]he penalties visited upon the Government, and in turn upon the public, [110 S.Ct. 1643] because its officers have violated the law must bear some relation to the purposes which the law is to serve.

Id. at 279. In light of these principles, we decline to apply the exclusionary rule in this context because the rule in Payton was designed to protect the physical integrity of the home; it was not intended to grant criminal suspects, like Harris, protection for statements made outside their premises where the police have probable cause to arrest the suspect for committing a crime.

Payton itself emphasized that our holding in that case stemmed from the "overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic." 445 U.S. at 601. Although it had

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long been settled that a warrantless arrest in a public place was permissible as long as the arresting officer had probable cause, see United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976), Payton nevertheless drew a line at the entrance to the home. This special solicitude was necessary because "`physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.'" 445 U.S. at 585 (citation omitted). The arrest warrant was required to "interpose the magistrate's determination of probable cause" to arrest before the officers could enter a house to effect an arrest. Id. at 602-603.

Nothing in the reasoning of that case suggests that an arrest in a home without a warrant but with probable cause somehow renders unlawful continued custody of the suspect once he is removed from the house. There could be no valid claim here that Harris was immune from prosecution because his person was the fruit of an illegal arrest. United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463, 474 (1980). Nor is there any claim that the warrantless arrest required the police to release Harris, or that Harris could not be immediately rearrested if momentarily released. Because the officers had probable cause to arrest Harris for a crime, Harris was not unlawfully in custody when he was removed to the station house, given Miranda warnings and allowed to talk. For Fourth Amendment purposes, the legal issue is the same as it would be had the police arrested Harris on his doorstep, illegally entered his home to search for evidence, and later interrogated Harris at the station house. Similarly, if the police had made a warrantless entry into Harris' home, not found him...

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