Massachusetts v. Sheppard, No. 82-963

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWHITE
Citation82 L.Ed.2d 737,468 U.S. 981,104 S.Ct. 3424
Docket NumberNo. 82-963
Decision Date05 July 1984
PartiesMASSACHUSETTS, Petitioner v. Osborne SHEPPARD

468 U.S. 981
104 S.Ct. 3424
82 L.Ed.2d 737
MASSACHUSETTS, Petitioner

v.

Osborne SHEPPARD.

No. 82-963.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued Jan. 17, 1984.
Decided July 5, 1984.
Syllabus

On the basis of evidence gathered in the investigation of a homicide in the Roxbury section of Boston, a police detective drafted an affidavit to support an application for an arrest warrant and a search warrant authorizing the search of respondent's residence. The affidavit stated that the police wished to search for certain described items, including clothing of the victim and a blunt instrument that might have been used on the victim. The affidavit was reviewed and approved by the District Attorney. Because it was Sunday, the local court was closed, and the police had a difficult time finding a warrant application form. The detective finally found a warrant form previously used in another district to search for controlled substances. After making some changes in the form, the detective presented it and the affidavit to a judge at his residence, informing him that the warrant form might need to be further changed. Concluding that the affidavit established probable cause to search respondent's residence and telling the detective that the necessary changes in the warrant form would be made, the judge made some changes, but did not change the substantive portion, which continued to authorize a search for controlled substances, nor did he alter the form so as to incorporate the affidavit. The judge then signed the warrant and returned it and the affidavit to the detective, informing him that the warrant was sufficient authority in form and content to carry out the requested search. The ensuing search of respondent's residence by the detective and other police officers was limited to the items listed in the affidavit, and several incriminating pieces of evidence were discovered. Thereafter, respondent was charged with first-degree murder. At a pretrial suppression hearing, the trial judge ruled that notwithstanding the warrant was defective under the Fourth Amendment in that it did not particularly describe the items to be seized, the incriminating evidence could be admitted because the police had acted in good faith in executing what they reasonably thought was a valid warrant. At the subsequent trial, respondent was convicted. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the evidence should have been suppressed.

Held: Federal law does not require the exclusion of the disputed evidence. Pp. 987-991.

(a) The exclusionary rule should not be applied when the officer conducting the search acted in objectively reasonable reliance on a warrant

Page 982

issued by a detached and neutral magistrate that subsequently is determined to be invalid. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677. Pp. 987-988.

(b) Here, there was an objectively reasonable basis for the officers' mistaken belief that the warrant authorized the search they conducted. The officers took every step that could reasonably be expected of them. At the point where the judge returned the affidavit and warrant to the detective, a reasonable police officer would have concluded, as the detective did, that the warrant authorized a search for the materials outlined in the affidavit. Pp. 988-989.

(c) A police officer is not required to disbelieve a judge who has just advised him that the warrant he possesses authorizes him to conduct the search he has requested. Pp. 989-990.

(d) An error of constitutional dimensions may have been committed with respect to the issuance of the warrant in this case, but it was the judge, not the police officer, who made the critical mistake. Suppressing evidence because the judge failed to make all the necessary clerical corrections despite his assurance that such changes would be made will not serve the deterrent function that the exclusionary rule was designed to achieve. Pp. 990-991.

387 Mass. 488, 441 N.E.2d 725, reversed and remanded.

Barbara A.H. Smith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boston, Mass., for petitioner.

John Reinstein, Boston, Mass., for respondent.

Page 983

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case involves the application of the rules articulated today in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677, to a situation in

Page 984

which police officers seize items pursuant to a warrant subsequently invalidated because of a technical error on the part of the issuing judge.

I

The badly burned body of Sandra Boulware was discovered in a vacant lot in the Roxbury section of Boston at approximately 5 a.m., Saturday, May 5, 1979. An autopsy revealed that Boulware had died of multiple compound skull fractures caused by blows to the head. After a brief investigation, the police decided to question one of the victim's boyfriends, Osborne Sheppard. Sheppard told the police that he had last seen the victim on Tuesday night and that he had been at a local gaming house (where card games were played) from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday. He identified several people who would be willing to substantiate the latter claim.

By interviewing the people Sheppard had said were at the gaming house on Friday night, the police learned that although Sheppard was at the gaming house that night, he had borrowed an automobile at about 3 o'clock Saturday morning in order to give two men a ride home. Even though the trip normally took only 15 minutes, Sheppard did not return with the car until nearly 5 a.m.

On Sunday morning, police officers visited the owner of the car Sheppard had borrowed. He consented to an inspection of the vehicle. Bloodstains and pieces of hair were found on the rear bumper and within the trunk compartment. In addition, the officers noticed strands of wire in the trunk similar to wire strands found on and near the body of the victim. The owner of the car told the officers that when he last used the car on Friday night, shortly before Sheppard borrowed it, he had placed articles in the trunk and had not noticed any stains on the bumper or in the trunk.

On the basis of the evidence gathered thus far in the investigation, Detective Peter O'Malley drafted an affidavit designed to support an application for an arrest warrant and a search warrant authorizing a search of Sheppard's residence.

Page 985

The affidavit set forth the results of the investigation and stated that the police wished to search for

"[a] fifth bottle of amaretto liquor, 2 nickel bags of marijuana, a woman's jacket that has been described as black-grey (charcoal), possessions of Sandra D. Boulware, similar type wire and rope that match those on the body of Sandra D. Boulware, or in the above [T]hunderbird. Blunt instrument that might have been used on the victim. Men's or women's clothing that may have blood, gasoline, burns on them. Items that may have fingerprints of the victim." 1

Detective O'Malley showed the affidavit to the District Attorney, the District Attorney's first assistant, and a sergeant, who all concluded that it set forth probable cause for the search and the arrest. 387 Mass. 488, 492, 441 N.E.2d 725, 727 (1982).

Because it was Sunday, the local court was closed, and the police had a difficult time finding a warrant application form. Detective O'Malley finally found a warrant form previously in use in the Dorchester District. The form was entitled "Search Warrant Controlled Substance G.L. c. 276 §§ 1 through 3A." Realizing that some changes had to be made before the form could be used to authorize the search requested in the affidavit, Detective O'Malley deleted the subtitle "controlled substance" with a typewriter. He also substituted "Roxbury" for the printed "Dorchester" and typed Sheppard's name and address into blank spaces provided for that information. However, the reference to "controlled substance" was not deleted in the portion of the form that...

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794 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Chapman, Nos. 89-2483
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 12, 1991
    ...in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984), and its companion case, Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 104 S.Ct. 3424, 82 L.Ed.2d 737 (1984). R.28 at 9-12. On appeal, Mr. Wright contends that this is not a viable alternative basis for the district co......
  • Davis v. U.S., No. 09-11328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 16, 2011
    ...and "punish[ing] the errors of judges" is not the office of the exclusionary rule. Id., at 916; see also Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U. S. 981, 990 (1984)Page 12(companion case declining to apply exclusionary rule where warrant held invalid as a result of judge's clerical error). Other g......
  • Herring v. United States, No. 07–513.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 14, 2009
    ...called this objectively reasonable reliance “good faith.” Ibid., n. 23, 104 S.Ct. 3405. In a companion case, Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 104 S.Ct. 3424, 82 L.Ed.2d 737 (1984), we held that the exclusionary rule did not apply when a warrant was invalid because a judge forgot to ......
  • State v. Burch, No. 2019AP1404-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 29, 2021
    ...189 L.Ed.2d 430 (2014) ; Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 25-26, 29, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968).4 See also Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 988-91, 104 S.Ct. 3424, 82 L.Ed.2d 737 (1984).5 The State erroneously argues that the Sheriff's Office's search is akin to law enforcement'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
793 cases
  • U.S. v. Chapman, Nos. 89-2483
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 12, 1991
    ...in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984), and its companion case, Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 104 S.Ct. 3424, 82 L.Ed.2d 737 (1984). R.28 at 9-12. On appeal, Mr. Wright contends that this is not a viable alternative basis for the district co......
  • Davis v. U.S., No. 09-11328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 16, 2011
    ...and "punish[ing] the errors of judges" is not the office of the exclusionary rule. Id., at 916; see also Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U. S. 981, 990 (1984)Page 12(companion case declining to apply exclusionary rule where warrant held invalid as a result of judge's clerical error). Other g......
  • Herring v. United States, No. 07–513.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 14, 2009
    ...called this objectively reasonable reliance “good faith.” Ibid., n. 23, 104 S.Ct. 3405. In a companion case, Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 104 S.Ct. 3424, 82 L.Ed.2d 737 (1984), we held that the exclusionary rule did not apply when a warrant was invalid because a judge forgot to ......
  • State v. Burch, No. 2019AP1404-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 29, 2021
    ...Riley v. California, 573 U.S. 373, 382, 393 (2014); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 25-26, 29 (1968). 23. See also Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981, 988-91 (1984). 24. The State erroneously argues that the Sheriff's Office's search is akin to law enforcement's ability to take a "second lo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Rights, Structure, and Remediation: The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...HUQ, supra note 2, at 142. (281.) See id. at 117-18 (criticizing United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984)); Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981 (1984) (delineating the bounds of the good-faith (282.) 344 U.S. 443 (1953); see HUQ, supra note 2, at 95-97, 116-17. (283.) Edwards v. Vanno......
  • UNDERSTANDING THE PUBLIC'S OPINIONS OF UAV-ASSISTED RESIDENTIAL MONITORING BY POLICE.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 49 Nbr. 4, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 923 (1984). (53.) See, e.g., Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U.S. 79, 80 (1987); Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981,986-87(1984). (54.) See, e.g., IDAHO CODE ANN. [section] 21-213 (55.) See id. [section] 21-213(3)(b). (56.) See U.S. CONST, amend. IV. (57.......
  • The Influence of Law in the Supreme Court’s Search-and-Seizure Jurisprudence
    • United States
    • American Politics Research Nbr. 33-1, January 2005
    • January 1, 2005
    ...estimation via Markov chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953-1999. Political Analysis, 10, 134-153. Massachusetts v. Sheppard, 468 U.S. 981 Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. 727 (1984). Moylan, C. E., Jr. (2003). A conceptualization of the Fourth Amendment. In W. W. Greenhalgh (E......

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