497 U.S. 177 (1990), 88-2018, Illinois v. Rodriguez

Docket Nº:No. 88-2018
Citation:497 U.S. 177, 110 S.Ct. 2793, 111 L.Ed.2d 148, 58 U.S.L.W. 4892
Party Name:Illinois v. Rodriguez
Case Date:June 21, 1990
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 177

497 U.S. 177 (1990)

110 S.Ct. 2793, 111 L.Ed.2d 148, 58 U.S.L.W. 4892

Illinois

v.

Rodriguez

No. 88-2018

United States Supreme Court

June 21, 1990

Argued March 20, 1990

CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS,

FIRST DISTRICT

Syllabus

Respondent was arrested in his apartment and charged with possession of illegal drugs, which the police had observed in plain view and seized. The officers did not have an arrest or search warrant, but gained entry to the apartment with the assistance of Gail Fischer, who represented that the apartment was "our[s]" and that she had clothes and furniture there, unlocked the door with her key, and gave the officers permission to enter. The trial court granted respondent's motion to suppress the seized evidence, holding that at the time she consented to the entry Fischer did not have common authority because she had moved out of the apartment. The court also rejected the State's contention that, even if Fischer did not have common authority, there was no Fourth Amendment violation if the police reasonably believed at the time of their entry that she possessed the authority to consent. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed.

Held:

1. The record demonstrates that the State has not satisfied its burden of proving that Fischer had "joint access or control for most purposes" over respondent's apartment, as is required under United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 171, n. 7, to establish "common authority." Pp. 181-182.

2. A warrantless entry is valid when based upon the consent of a third party whom the police, at the time of the entry, reasonably believe to possess common authority over the premises, but who in fact does not. Pp. 182-189.

(a) Because the Appellate Court's opinion does not contain a "plain statement" that its decision rests on an adequate and independent state ground, it is subject to review by this Court. See Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1040-1042. P. 182.

(b) What respondent is assured by the Fourth Amendment is not that no government search of his house will occur unless he consents; but that no such search will occur that is "unreasonable." As with the many other factual determinations that must regularly be made by government agents in the Fourth Amendment context, the "reasonableness" of a police determination of consent to enter must be judged not by whether the police were correct in their assessment, but by the objective

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standard of whether the facts available at the moment would warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that the consenting party had authority over the premises. If not, then warrantless entry without further inquiry is unlawful unless authority actually exists. But if so, the search is valid. Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483 reconciled. Pp. 183-189.

(c) On remand, the appellate court must determine whether the police reasonably believed that Fischer had authority to consent to the entry into respondent's apartment. P. 189.

177 Ill.App.3d 1154, 140 Ill.Dec. 583, 550 N.E.2d 65 (1989), reversed and remanded.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 189.

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SCALIA, J., lead opinion

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164 (1974), this Court reaffirmed that a warrantless entry and search by law enforcement officers does not violate the Fourth Amendment's proscription of "unreasonable searches and seizures" if the officers have obtained the consent of a third party who possesses common authority over the premises. The present case presents an issue we expressly reserved in Matlock, see id. at 177, n. 14: whether a warrantless entry is valid when based upon the consent of a third party whom the police, at the time of the entry, reasonably believe to possess common authority over the premises, but who in fact does not do so.

I

Respondent Edward Rodriguez was arrested in his apartment by law enforcement officers and charged with possession of illegal drugs. The police gained entry to the apartment with the consent and assistance of Gail Fischer, who had lived there with respondent for several months. The relevant facts leading to the arrest are as follows .

On July 26, 1985, police were summoned to the residence of Dorothy Jackson on South Wolcott in Chicago. They were met by Ms. Jackson's daughter, Gail Fischer, who showed signs of a severe beating. She told the officers that she had been assaulted by respondent Edward Rodriguez earlier that day in an apartment on South California. Fischer stated that Rodriguez was then [110 S.Ct. 2797] asleep in the apartment, and she consented to travel there with the police in order to unlock the door with her key so that the officers could enter and arrest him. During this conversation, Fischer several times referred to the apartment on South California as "our" apartment, and said that she had clothes and furniture there. It is unclear whether she indicated that she currently lived at the apartment, or only that she used to live there.

Page 180

The police officers drove to the apartment on South California, accompanied by Fischer. They did not obtain an arrest warrant for Rodriguez, nor did they seek a search warrant for the apartment. At the apartment, Fischer unlocked the door with her key and gave the officers permission to enter. They moved through the door into the living room, where they observed in plain view drug paraphernalia and containers filled with white powder that they believed (correctly, as later analysis showed) to be cocaine. They proceeded to the bedroom, where they found Rodriguez asleep and discovered additional containers of white powder in two open attache cases. The officers arrested Rodriguez and seized the drugs and related paraphernalia.

Rodriguez was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. He moved to suppress all evidence seized at the time of his arrest, claiming that Fischer had vacated the apartment several weeks earlier and had no authority to consent to the entry. The Cook County Circuit Court granted the motion, holding that, at the time she consented to the entry, Fischer did not have common authority over the apartment. The Court concluded that Fischer was not a "usual resident," but rather an "infrequent visitor" at the apartment on South California, based upon its findings that Fischer's name was not on the lease, that she did not contribute to the rent, that she was not allowed to invite others to the apartment on her own, that she did not have access to the apartment when respondent was away, and that she had moved some of her possessions from the apartment. The Circuit Court also rejected the State's contention that, even if Fischer did not possess common authority over the premises, there was no Fourth Amendment violation if the police reasonably believed at the time of their entry that Fischer possessed the authority to consent.

The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the Circuit Court in all respects. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the State's Petition for Leave to Appeal, 125 Ill.2d 572, 537

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N.E.2d 816 (1989), and we granted certiorari. 493 U.S. 932 (1989).

II

The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits the warrantless entry of a person's home, whether to make an arrest or to search for specific objects. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980); Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10 (1948). The prohibition does not apply, however, to situations in which voluntary consent has been obtained, either from the individual whose property is searched, see Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973), or from a third party who possesses common authority over the premises, see United States v. Matlock, supra, 415 U.S. at 171. The State of Illinois contends that that exception applies in the present case.

As we stated in Matlock, 415 U.S. at 171, n. 7, "[c]ommon authority" rests "on mutual use of the property by persons generally having joint access or control for most purposes . . . ." The burden of establishing that common authority rests upon the State. On the basis of this record, it is clear that burden was not sustained. The evidence showed that, although Fischer, with her two small children, had lived with Rodriguez beginning in December, 1984, she had moved out on July 1, 1985, almost a month before the search at issue [110 S.Ct. 2798] here, and had gone to live with her mother. She took her and her children's clothing with her, though leaving behind some furniture and household effects. During the period after July 1, she sometimes spent the night at Rodriguez's apartment, but never invited her friends there and never went there herself when he was not home. Her name was not on the lease, nor did she contribute to the rent. She had a key to the apartment, which she said at trial she had taken without Rodriguez's knowledge (though she testified at the preliminary hearing that Rodriguez had given her the key). On these facts, the State has not established that, with respect to the South California apartment, Fischer had

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"joint access or control for most purposes." To the contrary, the Appellate Court's determination of no common authority over the apartment was obviously correct.

III

A

The State contends that, even if Fischer did not in fact have authority to give consent, it suffices to validate the entry that the law enforcement officers reasonably believed she did. Before reaching the merits of that contention, we must consider a jurisdictional objection: that...

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