Lee Art Theatre, Inc v. Virginia, No. 997

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; Mr. Justice BLACK; HARLAN
Citation88 S.Ct. 2103,20 L.Ed.2d 1313,392 U.S. 636
PartiesLEE ART THEATRE, INC. v. VIRGINIA
Docket NumberNo. 997
Decision Date17 June 1968

392 U.S. 636
88 S.Ct. 2103
20 L.Ed.2d 1313
LEE ART THEATRE, INC.

v.

VIRGINIA.

No. 997.
June 17, 1968.

Plato Cacheris, for petitioner.

James B. Wilkinson, for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. Petitioner, operator of a motion picture theatre in Richmond, Virginia, was convicted in the Hustings Court of Richmond of possessing and exhibiting lewd and obscene motion pictures in violation of Title 18.1—228 of the Code of Virginia. The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia refused a writ of error.

The films in question were admitted in evidence over objection that they had been unconstitutionally seized. The seizure was under the authority of a warrant issued by a justice of the peace on the basis of an affidavit of a police officer which stated only the titles of the motion pictures and that the officer had determined from personal observation of them and of the billboard in front of the theatre that the films were obscene.

Page 637

The admission of the films in evidence requires reversal of petitioner's conviction. A seizure of allegedly obscene books on the authority of a warrant 'issued on the strength of the conclusory assertions of a single police officer, without any scrutiny by the judge of any materials considered * * * obscene,' was held to be an unconstitutional seizure in Marcus v. Search Warrants of Property at 104 East Tenth St., 367 U.S. 717, 731—732, 81 S.Ct. 1708, 1716, 6 L.Ed.2d 1127. It is true that a judge may read a copy of a book in courtroom or chambers but not as easily arrange to see a motion picture there. However, we need not decide in this case whether the justice of the peace should have viewed the motion picture before issuing the warrant. The procedure under which the warrant issued solely upon the conclusory assertions of the police officer without any inquiry by the justice of the peace into the factual basis for the officer's conclusions was not a procedure 'designed to focus searchingly on the question of obscenity,' id., at 732, 81 S.Ct., at 1716, and therefore fell short of constitutional requirements demanding necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression. See Freedman v. State of Maryland, 380 U.S. 51, 58—59, 85 S.Ct. 734, 738—739, 13 L.Ed.2d 649.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Reversed and remanded.

Mr. Justice...

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159 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Kelly, No. 75--1686
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 27, 1976
    ...2796. For example, in Marcus v. Search Warrant, 367 U.S. 717, 732, 81 S.Ct. 1708, 6 L.Ed.2d 1127 (1961), and Lee Art Theatre v. Virginia, 392 U.S. 636, 637, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (1968), the Supreme Court held that a warrant for the seizure of allegedly obscene material Page 1373 c......
  • Grove Press, Inc. v. Bailey, Civ. A. No. 69-770.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • August 14, 1970
    ...the rationale of Freedman v. Maryland, 1965, 380 U.S. 51, 85 S.Ct. 734, 13 L.Ed.2d 649, and Lee Art Theatre, Inc. v. Virginia, 1968, 392 U.S. 636, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313, pertinent to the decision of this case. The Supreme Court found that the effort to censor material prior to dist......
  • U.S. v. Sanders, No. 77-5715
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 2, 1979
    ...L.Ed.2d 809; Marcus v. Search Warrant of Property, 1961, 367 U.S. 717, 81 S.Ct. 1708, 6 L.Ed.2d 1127; Lee Art Theatre v. Virginia, 1968, 392 U.S. 636, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 2104, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (per curiam). "(S)eizing films to destroy them or to block their distribution or exhibition is a very d......
  • Zurcher v. Stanford Daily Bergna v. Stanford Daily, Nos. 76-1484
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1978
    ...at 1716; A Quantity of Books v. Kansas, 378 U.S. 205, 210, 84 S.Ct. 1723, 1725, 12 L.Ed.2d 809 (1964); Lee Art Theatre, Inc. v. Virginia, 392 U.S. 636, 637, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 2104, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (1968); Roaden v. Kentucky, supra, 413 U.S. at 502, 93 S.Ct. at 2800; Heller v. New York, 413 U.S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
159 cases
  • U.S. v. Kelly, No. 75--1686
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 27, 1976
    ...2796. For example, in Marcus v. Search Warrant, 367 U.S. 717, 732, 81 S.Ct. 1708, 6 L.Ed.2d 1127 (1961), and Lee Art Theatre v. Virginia, 392 U.S. 636, 637, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (1968), the Supreme Court held that a warrant for the seizure of allegedly obscene material Page 1373 c......
  • Grove Press, Inc. v. Bailey, Civ. A. No. 69-770.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • August 14, 1970
    ...the rationale of Freedman v. Maryland, 1965, 380 U.S. 51, 85 S.Ct. 734, 13 L.Ed.2d 649, and Lee Art Theatre, Inc. v. Virginia, 1968, 392 U.S. 636, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313, pertinent to the decision of this case. The Supreme Court found that the effort to censor material prior to dist......
  • U.S. v. Sanders, No. 77-5715
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 2, 1979
    ...L.Ed.2d 809; Marcus v. Search Warrant of Property, 1961, 367 U.S. 717, 81 S.Ct. 1708, 6 L.Ed.2d 1127; Lee Art Theatre v. Virginia, 1968, 392 U.S. 636, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 2104, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (per curiam). "(S)eizing films to destroy them or to block their distribution or exhibition is a very d......
  • Zurcher v. Stanford Daily Bergna v. Stanford Daily, Nos. 76-1484
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1978
    ...at 1716; A Quantity of Books v. Kansas, 378 U.S. 205, 210, 84 S.Ct. 1723, 1725, 12 L.Ed.2d 809 (1964); Lee Art Theatre, Inc. v. Virginia, 392 U.S. 636, 637, 88 S.Ct. 2103, 2104, 20 L.Ed.2d 1313 (1968); Roaden v. Kentucky, supra, 413 U.S. at 502, 93 S.Ct. at 2800; Heller v. New York, 413 U.S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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