Alabama v. White, No. 89-789

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS
Citation110 S.Ct. 2412,496 U.S. 325,110 L.Ed.2d 301
Docket NumberNo. 89-789
Decision Date11 June 1990
PartiesALABAMA, Petitioner v. Vanessa Rose WHITE

496 U.S. 325
110 S.Ct. 2412
110 L.Ed.2d 301
ALABAMA, Petitioner

v.

Vanessa Rose WHITE.

No. 89-789.
Argued April 17, 1990.
Decided June 11, 1990.
Syllabus

Police received an anonymous telephone tip that respondent White would be leaving a particular apartment at a particular time in a particular vehicle, that she would be going to a particular motel, and that she would be in possession of cocaine. They immediately proceeded to the apartment building, saw a vehicle matching the caller's description, observed White as she left the building and entered the vehicle, and followed her along the most direct route to the motel, stopping her vehicle just short of the motel. A consensual search of the vehicle revealed marijuana and, after White was arrested, cocaine was found in her purse. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama reversed her conviction on possession charges, holding that the trial court should have suppressed the marijuana and cocaine because the officers did not have the reasonable suspicion necessary under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, to justify the investigatory stop of the vehicle.

Held: The anonymous tip, as corroborated by independent police work, exhibited sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make the investigatory stop. Pp. 328-332.

(a) Under Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 147, 92 S.Ct. 1921, 1924, 32 L.Ed.2d 612, an informant's tip may carry sufficient "indicia of reliability" to justify a Terry stop even though it may be insufficient to support an arrest or search warrant. Moreover, Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 230, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 2328, 76 L.Ed.2d 527, adopted a "totality of the circumstances" approach to determining whether an informant's tip establishes probable cause, whereby the informant's veracity, reliability, and basis of knowledge are highly relevant. These factors are also relevant in the reasonable-suspicion context, although allowance must be made in applying them for the lesser showing required to meet that standard. Pp. 328-329.

(b) Standing alone, the tip here is completely lacking in the necessary indicia of reliability, since it provides virtually nothing from which one might conclude that the caller is honest or his information reliable and gives no indication of the basis for his predictions regarding White's criminal activities. See Gates, supra, 462 U.S., at 227, 103 S.Ct., at 2326. However, although it is a close question, the totality of the circumstances demonstrates that significant aspects of the informant's story were sufficiently corroborated by the police to furnish reasonable suspicion. Although not every detail

Page 326

mentioned by the tipster was verified—e.g., the name of the woman leaving the apartment building or the precise apartment from which she left—the officers did corroborate that a woman left the building and got into the described vehicle. Given the fact that they proceeded to the building immediately after the call and that White emerged not too long thereafter, it also appears that her departure was within the time frame predicted by the caller. Moreover, since her 4-mile route was the most direct way to the motel, but nevertheless involved several turns, the caller's prediction of her destination was significantly corroborated even though she was stopped before she reached the motel. Furthermore, the fact that the caller was able to predict her future behavior demonstrates a special familiarity with her affairs. Thus, there was reason to believe that the caller was honest and well informed, and to impart some degree of reliability to his allegation that White was engaged in criminal activity. See id., at 244, 245, 103 S.Ct., at 2335, 2336. Pp. 329-332.

550 So.2d 1074 (Ala.Cr.App.1989), reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 333. Joseph G.L. Marston, Prattville, Ala., for petitioner.

David B. Byrne, Jr., Montgomery, Ala., for respondent.

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Based on an anonymous telephone tip, police stopped respondent's vehicle. A consensual search of the car revealed drugs. The issue is whether the tip, as corroborated by in-

Page 327

dependent police work, exhibited sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make the investigatory stop. We hold that it did.

On April 22, 1987, at approximately 3 p.m., Corporal B.H. Davis of the Montgomery Police Department received a telephone call from an anonymous person, stating that Vanessa White would be leaving 235-C Lynwood Terrace Apartments at a particular time in a brown Plymouth station wagon with the right taillight lens broken, that she would be going to Dobey's Motel, and that she would be in possession of about an ounce of cocaine inside a brown attache case. Corporal Davis and his partner, Corporal P. A. Reynolds, proceeded to the Lynwood Terrace Apartments. The officers saw a brown Plymouth station wagon with a broken right taillight in the parking lot in front of the 235 building. The officers observed respondent leave the 235 building, carrying nothing in her hands, and enter the station wagon. They followed the vehicle as it drove the most direct route to Dobey's Motel. When the vehicle reached the Mobile Highway, on which Dobey's Motel is located, Corporal Reynolds requested a patrol unit to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was stopped at approximately 4:18 p.m., just short of Dobey's Motel. Corporal Davis asked respondent to step to the rear of her car, where he informed her that she had been stopped because she was suspected of carrying cocaine in the vehicle. He asked if they could look for cocaine, and respondent said they could look. The officers found a locked brown attache case in the car, and, upon request, respondent provided the combination to the lock. The officers found marijuana in the attache case and placed respondent under arrest. During processing at the station, the officers found three milligrams of cocaine in respondent's purse.

Respondent was charged in Montgomery County Court with possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine. The trial court denied respondent's motion to suppress, and she pleaded guilty to the charges, reserving the right to appeal

Page 328

the denial of her suppression motion. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama held that the officers did not have the reasonable suspicion necessary under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), to justify the investigatory stop of respondent's car, and that the marijuana and cocaine were fruits of respondent's unconstitutional detention. The court concluded that respondent's motion to dismiss should have been granted and reversed her conviction. 550 So.2d 1074 (1989). The Supreme Court of Alabama denied the State's petition for writ of certiorari, two justices dissenting. 550 So.2d 1081 (1989). Because of differing views in the state and federal courts over whether an...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3270 practice notes
  • Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Enforcement Authority Procedures
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 02, 2008
    • October 2, 2008
    ...(2000). (In contrast, probable cause means ``a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found.'' Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330 (1990)). In DOT need only establish a ``minimal level of objective justification'' to detain, open, and inspect a shipment that may hav......
  • Price v. Sery, No. 06-35159.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 22, 2008
    ...will be required to establish the requisite quantum of suspicion than would be required if the tip were more reliable. Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 Contrary to the majority's suggestion, Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 124 S.Ct. 795, 157 L.Ed.2d 76......
  • U.S. v. Gomez-Vega, Criminal No. 04-420 (CCC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • October 16, 2007
    ...sustained a warrant based on an anonymous tip although the police was able to verify only innocent behavior and with Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331-33, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990), in which the Supreme Court concluded that less detailed anonymous tip provided reasonable susp......
  • Goldman v. Williams, Civil Action No. H–14–433.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • April 1, 2015
    ...suspicion considers “both the content of information possessed by police and its degree of reliability.” Id. (quoting Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). The court should consider “the totality of the circumstances confronting [the] police officer, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3256 cases
  • Price v. Sery, No. 06-35159.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 22, 2008
    ...will be required to establish the requisite quantum of suspicion than would be required if the tip were more reliable. Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 Contrary to the majority's suggestion, Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 124 S.Ct. 795, 157 L.Ed.2d 76......
  • U.S. v. Gomez-Vega, Criminal No. 04-420 (CCC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • October 16, 2007
    ...sustained a warrant based on an anonymous tip although the police was able to verify only innocent behavior and with Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331-33, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990), in which the Supreme Court concluded that less detailed anonymous tip provided reasonable susp......
  • Goldman v. Williams, Civil Action No. H–14–433.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • April 1, 2015
    ...suspicion considers “both the content of information possessed by police and its degree of reliability.” Id. (quoting Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). The court should consider “the totality of the circumstances confronting [the] police officer, ......
  • United States v. Williams, No. 12–3864.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 24, 2013
    ...objective evidence to corroborate the report. See United States v. Hicks, 531 F.3d 555, 559–60 (7th Cir.2008) (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 332, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990); New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, 104 S.Ct. 2626, 81 L.Ed.2d 550 (1984)). However, in passing, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT