Mapp v. Ohio, 236

Decision Date19 June 1961
Docket NumberNo. 236,236
Citation81 S.Ct. 1684,6 L.Ed.2d 1081,84 A.L.R.2d 933,367 U.S. 643
PartiesDollree MAPP, etc., Appellant, v. OHIO
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 82 S.Ct. 23.

Mr. A. L. Kearns, Cleveland, Ohio, for appellant.

Mr. Bernard A. Berkman, Cleveland, Ohio, for American Civil Liberties Union and the Ohio Civil Liberties Union, as amici curiae.

Mrs. ,Gertrude Bauer Mahon, Cleveland, Ohio, for appellee.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant stands convicted of knowingly having had in her possession and under her control certain lewd and lascivious books, pictures, and photographs in violation of § 2905.34 of Ohio's Revised Code.1 As officially stated in the syllabus to its opinion, the Supreme Court of Ohio found that her conviction was valid though 'based primarily upon the introduction in evidence of lewd and lascivious books and pictures unlawfully seized during an unlawful search of defendant's home * * *.' 170 Ohio St. 427—428, 166 N.E.2d 387, 388.

On May 23, 1957, three Cleveland police officers arrived at appellant's residence in that city pursuant to information that 'a person (was) hiding out in the home, who was wanted for questioning in connection with a recent bombing, and that there was a large amount of policy paraphernalia being hidden in the home.' Miss Mapp and her daughter by a former marriage lived on the top floor of the two-family dwelling. Upon their arrival at that house, the officers knocked on the door and demanded entrance but appellant, after telephoning her attorney, refused to admit them without a search warrant. They advised their headquarters of the situation and undertook a surveillance of the house.

The officers again sought entrance some three hours later when four or more additional officers arrived on the scene. When Miss Mapp did not come to the door immediately, at least one of the several doors to the house was forcibly opened2 and the policemen gained admittance. Meanwhile Miss Mapp's attorney arrived, but the officers, having secured their own entry, and continuing in their definance of the law, would permit him neither to see Miss Mapp nor to enter the house. It appears that Miss Mapp was halfway down the stairs from the upper floor to the front door when the officers, in this highhanded manner, broke into the hall. She demanded to see the search warrant. A paper, claimed to be a warrant, was held up by one of the officers. She grabbed the 'warrant' and placed it in her bosom. A struggle ensued in which the officers recovered the piece of paper and as a result of which they handcuffed appellant because she had been 'belligerent' in resisting their official rescue of the 'warrant' from her person. Running roughshod over appellant, a policeman 'grabbed' her, 'twisted (her) hand,' and she 'yelled (and) pleaded with him' because 'it was hurting.' Appellant, in handcuffs, was then forcibly taken upstairs to her bedroom where the officers searched a dresser, a chest of drawers, a closet and some suitcases. They also looked into a photo album and through personal papers belonging to the appellant. The search spread to the rest of the second floor including the child's bedroom, the living room, the kitchen and a dinette. The basement of the building and a trunk found therein were also searched. The obscene materials for possession of which she was ultimately convicted were discovered in the course of that widespread search.

At the trial no search warrant was produced by the prosecution, nor was the failure to produce one explained or accounted for. At best, 'There is, in the record, considerable doubt as to whether there ever was any warrant for the search of defendant's home.' 170 Ohio St. at page 430, 166 N.E.2d at page 389. The Ohio Supreme Court believed a 'reasonable argument' could be made that the conviction should be reversed 'because the 'methods' employed to obtain the (evidence) were such as to 'offend 'a sense of justice,'" but the court found determinative the fact that the evidence had not been taken 'from defendant's person by the use of brutal or offensive physical force against defendant.' 170 Ohio St. at page 431, 166 N.E.2d at pages 389—390.

The State says that even if the search were made without authority, or otherwise unreasonably, it is not prevented from using the unconstitutionally seized evidence at trial, citing Wolf v. People of State of Colorado, 1949, 338 U.S. 25, at page 33, 69 S.Ct. 1359. at page 1364, 93 L.Ed. 1782, in which this Court did indeed hold 'that in a prosecution in a State court for a State crime the Fourteenth Amend- ment does not forbid the admission of evidence obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure.' On this appeal, of which we have noted probable jurisdiction, 364 U.S. 868, 81 S.Ct. 111, 5 L.Ed.2d 90, it is urged once again that we review that holding.3


Seventy-five years ago, in Boyd v. United States, 1886, 116 U.S. 616, 630, 6 S.Ct. 524, 532, 29 L.Ed. 746, considering the Fourth4 and Fifth Amendments as running 'almost into each other'5 on the facts before it, this Court held that the doctrines of those Amendments

'apply to all invasions on the part of the government and its employes of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life. It is not the breaking of his doors, and the rummaging of his drawers that constitutes the essence of the offence; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty and private property * * *. Breaking into a house and opening boxes and drawers are circumstances of aggravation; but any forcible and compulsory extortion of a man's own testimony or of his private papers to be used as evidence to convict him of crime or to forfeit his goods, is within the condemnation * * * (of those Amendments).'

The Court noted that

'constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. * * * It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and againt any stealthy encroachments thereon.' At page 635 of 116 U.S., at page 535 of 6 S.Ct.

In this jealous regard for maintaining the integrity of individual rights, the Court gave life to Madison's prediction that 'independent tribunals of justice * * * will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights.' I Annals of Cong. 439 (1789). Concluding, the Court specifically referred to the use of the evidence there seized as 'unconstitutional.' At page 638 of 116 U.S., at page 536 of 6 S.Ct.

Less than 30 years after Boyd, this Court, in Weeks v. United States, 1914, 232 U.S. 383, at pages 391—392, 34 S.Ct. 341, at page 344, 58 L.Ed. 652, stated that

'the 4th Amendment * * * put the courts of the United States and Federal officials, in the exercise of their power and authority, under limitations and restraints (and) * * * forever secure(d) the people, their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against all unreasonable searches and seizures under the guise of law * * * and the duty of giving to it force and effect is obligatory upon all entrusted under our Federal system with the enforcement of the laws.'

Specifically dealing with the use of the evidence unconstitutionally seized, the Court concluded:

'If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring his right to be secure against such searches and seizures is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution. The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles established by years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the fundamental law of the land.' At page 393 of 232 U.S., at page 344 of 34 S.Ct.

Finally, the Court in that case clearly stated that use of the seized evidence involved 'a denial of the constitutional rights of the accused.' At page 398 of 232 U.S., at page 346 of 34 S.Ct. Thus, in the year 1914, in the Weeks case, this Court 'for the first time' held that 'in a federal prosecution the Fourth Amendment barred the use of evidence secured through an illegal search and seizure.' Wolf v. People of State of Colorado, supra, 338 U.S. at page 28, 69 S.Ct. at page 1361. This Court has ever since required of federal law officers a strict adherence to that command which this Court has held to be a clear, specific, and constitutionally required—even if judically implied—deterrent safeguard without insistence upon which the Fourth Amendment would have been reduced to 'a form of words.' Holmes J., Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 1920, 251 U.S. 385, 392, 40 S.Ct. 182, 183, 64 L.Ed. 319. It meant, quite simply, that 'conviction by means of unlawful seizures and enforced confessions * * * should find no sanction in the judgments of the courts * * *,' Weeks v. United States, supra, 232 U.S. at page 392, 34 S.Ct. at page 344, and that such evidence 'shall not be used at all.' Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, supra, 251 U.S. at page 392, 40 S.Ct. at page 183.

There are in the cases of this Court some passing references to the Weeks rule as being one of evidence. But the plain and unequivocal language of Weeks—and its later paraphrase in Wolf—to the effect that the Weeks rule is of constitutional origin, remains entirely undisturbed. In Byars v. United States, 1927, 273 U.S. 28, at pages 29—30, 47 S.Ct. 248, at pages 248—249, 71 L.Ed. 520, a unanimous Court declared that 'the doctrine (cannot) * * * be tolerated under our constitutional system, that evidences of crime discovered by a federal officer in making a search without lawful warrant may be used against the victim of the unlawful search...

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