Stone v. Powell Wolff v. Rice, Nos. 74-1055

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPOWELL
Citation49 L.Ed.2d 1067,428 U.S. 465,96 S.Ct. 3037
PartiesW. T. STONE, Warden, Petitioner, v. Lloyd Charles POWELL. Charles L. WOLFF, Jr., Warden, Petitioner, v. David L. RICE
Docket NumberNos. 74-1055,74-1222
Decision Date06 July 1976

428 U.S. 465
96 S.Ct. 3037
49 L.Ed.2d 1067
W. T. STONE, Warden, Petitioner,

v.

Lloyd Charles POWELL. Charles L. WOLFF, Jr., Warden, Petitioner, v. David L. RICE.

Nos. 74-1055, 74-1222.
Argued Feb. 24, 1976.
Decided July 6, 1976.
Rehearings Denied Oct. 4, 1976.

See 429 U.S. 874, 97 S.Ct. 197.

Syllabus

Respondent in No. 74-1055, was convicted of murder in state court, in part on the basis of testimony concerning a revolver found on his person when he was arrested for violating a vagrancy ordinance. The trial court rejected respondent's contention that the testimony should have been excluded because the ordinance was unconstitutional and the arrest therefore invalid. The appellate court affirmed, finding it unnecessary to pass upon the legality of the arrest and search because of the court's conclusion that the error, if any, in admitting the challenged testimony was harmless, beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondent then applied for habeas corpus relief in the Federal District Court, which concluded that the arresting officer had probable cause and that even if the vagrancy ordinance was unconstitutional the deterrent purpose of the exclusionary rule did not require that it be applied to bar admission of the fruits of a search incident to an otherwise valid arrest. The court held, alternatively, that any error in admission of the challenged evidence was harmless. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the ordinance was unconstitutional; that respondent's arrest was therefore illegal; and that, although exclusion of the evidence would serve no deterrent purpose with regard to officers who were enforcing statutes in good faith, exclusion would deter legislators from enacting unconstitutional statutes. The court also held that admission of the evidence was not harmless error. In No. 74-1222, respondent was also convicted of murder in a state court, in part on the basis of evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant which respondent on a suppression motion claimed was invalid. The trial court denied respondent's motion to suppress, and was upheld on appeal. Respondent then filed a habeas corpus petition in Federal District Court. The court concluded that the warrant was invalid, and rejected the State's contention that in any event probable cause justified the

Page 466

search. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: Where the State, as in each of these cases, has provided an opportunity for full and fair litigation of a Fourth Amendment claim, a state prisoner may not be granted federal habeas corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search and seizure was introduced at his trial. In this context the contribution of the exclusionary rule, if any, to the effectuation of the Fourth Amendment is minimal as compared to the substantial societal costs of applying the rule. Pp. 474-495.

(a) Until these cases this Court has had no occasion fully to examine the validity of the assumption made in Kaufman v. United States, 394 U.S. 217, 89 S.Ct. 1068, 22 L.Ed.2d 227, that the effectuation of the Fourth Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth, requires the granting of habeas corpus relief when a prisoner has been convicted in state court on the basis of evidence obtained in an illegal search or seizure since those Amendments were held in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081, to require exclusion of such evidence at trial and reversal of conviction upon direct review. P. 480-481.

(b) The Mapp majority justified application of the exclusionary rule chiefly upon the belief that exclusion would deter future unlawful police conduct, and though preserving the integrity of the judicial process has been alluded to as also justifying the rule, that concern is minimal where federal habeas corpus relief is sought by a prisoner who has already been given the opportunity for full and fair consideration of his search-and-seizure claim at trial and on direct review. Pp. 484-486.

(c) Despite the broad deterrent purpose of the exclusionary rule, it has never been interpreted to proscribe the introduction of illegally seized evidence in all proceedings or against all persons; in various situations the Court has found the policies behind the rule outweighed by countervailing considerations. Pp. 486-489.

(d) The ultimate question of guilt or innocence should be the central concern in a criminal proceeding. Application of the exclusionary rule, however, deflects the truth-finding process and often frees the guilty. Though the rule is thought to deter unlawful police activity, in part through nurturing respect for Fourth Amendment values, indiscriminate application of the rule may well generate disrespect for the law and the administration of justice. Pp. 489-491.

(e) Despite the absence of supportive empirical evidence, the assumption has been that the exclusionary rule deters law enforce-

Page 467

ment officers from violating the Fourth Amendment by removing the incentives to disregard it. Though the Court adheres to that view applied to the trial and direct-appeal stages, there is no reason to believe that the effect of applying the rule would be appreciably diminished if search-and-seizure claims could not be raised in federal habeas corpus review of state convictions. Even if some additional deterrent effect existed from application of the rule in isolated habeas corpus cases, the furtherance of Fourth Amendment goals would be outweighed by the detriment to the criminal justice system. Pp. 492-494.

No. 74-1055, 507 F.2d 93; No. 74-1222, 513 F.2d 1280, reversed.

Robert R. Granucci, Deputy Atty. Gen. of Cal., Melvin Kent Kammerlohr, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Neb., for petitioners; Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen., Jack R. Winkler, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Edward P. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. Gen., Clifford K. Thompson, Jr., Thomas A. Brady, Ronald E. Niver, Deputy Attys. Gen., Paul L. Douglas, Atty. Gen., on the briefs.

Robert W. Peterson, William C. Cunningham, Santa Clara, Cal., for respondents; J. Patrick Green, Omaha, Neb., on the brief.

Bruce E. Babbitt, Atty. Gen., Shirley H. Frondorf, Frank T. Galati, Asst. Attys. Gen., William J. Schafer, III, Phoenix, Ariz., for Ariz.; Arthur K. Bolton, Atty. Gen., Robert S. Stubbs, II, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard L. Chambers, Deputy Atty. Gen., G. Thomas Davis, Senior Asst. Atty. Gen., for Ga.; Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Donald P. Bogard, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Ind., Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen. of Iowa, for Ind. and Iowa; Vernon B. Romney, Atty. Gen., William W. Barrett, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Utah; John J. Cleary, San Diego, Cal., for Cal. Public Defenders Assn.; Mary M. Kaufman, San Bernardino, Cal., for Nat. Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression; Henry W. McGee, Jr., Los Angeles, Cal., for Nat. Conference of Black Lawyers; Jonathan M. Hyman, Newark, N. J., for Nat. Lawyers' Guild and others; Theodore A. Gottfried, Robert E. Davison, Springfield, Ill., for Nat. Legal Aid and Defender Assn.; Leon Friedman, Melvin L. Wulf, Joel M. Gora, New York City, for American Civil Liberties Union; Robert L. Shevin, Atty. Gen., Stephen R. Koons, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Fla.; William F. Hyland, Atty. Gen., David S. Baime, John DeCicco, Daniel Louis Grossman, Deputy Attys. Gen., for N. J.; Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen., Samuel A. Hirshowitz, First Asst. Atty. Gen., Lillian Z. Cohen, Asst. Atty. Gen., for N. Y.; Frank Carrington, Evanston, Ill., Fred E. Inbau, Chicago, Ill., Wayne W. Schmidt, Evanston, Ill., James R. Thompson, Chicago, Ill., William K. Lambie, Evanston, Ill., for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, Inc., and others, amici curiae.

[Amicus Curiae Information from pages 467-468 intentionally omitted]

Page 468

Mr. Justice POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents in these cases were convicted of criminal offenses in state courts, and their convictions were affirmed on appeal. The prosecution in each case relied upon evidence obtained by searches and seizures alleged by respondents to have been unlawful. Each respondent subsequently sought relief in a Federal District Court by filing a petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus under

Page 469

28 U.S.C. § 2254. The question presented is whether a federal court should consider, in ruling on a petition for habeas corpus relief filed by a state prisoner, a claim that evidence obtained by an unconstitutional search or seizure was introduced at his trial, when he has previously been afforded an opportunity for full and fair litigation of his claim in the state courts. The issue is of considerable importance to the administration of criminal justice.

I

We summarize first the relevant facts and procedural history of these cases.

A.

Respondent Lloyd Powell was convicted of murder in June 1968 after trial in a California state court. At about midnight on February 17, 1968, he and three companions entered the Bonanza Liquor Store in San Bernardino, Cal., where Powell became involved in an altercation with Gerald Parsons, the store manager, over the theft of a bottle of wine. In the scuffling that followed Powell shot and killed Parsons' wife. Ten hours later an officer of the Henderson, Nev., Police Department arrested Powell for violation of the Henderson vagrancy ordinance,1 and in the search incident to the arrest discovered a .38-caliber revolver with six expended cartridges in the cylinder.

Powell was extradited to California and convicted of

Page 470

second-degree murder in the Superior Court of San Bernardo County. Parsons and Powell's accomplices at the liquor store testified against him. A criminologist testified that the revolver found on Powell was the gun that killed Parsons' wife. The trial court rejected Powell's contention that testimony by the Henderson police officer as to the search and the discovery of the revolver should have been excluded because the vagrancy ordinance was...

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5140 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Pace, Nos. 87-2529
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 15, 1990
    ...valuable, a search's illegality does not make the evidence gathered in that search any less probative or reliable. Cf. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 489-91, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 3050-51, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976); People v. Lucente, 116 Ill.2d 133, 107 Ill.Dec. 214, 220, 506 N.E.2d 1269, 1275 (1987......
  • Morgan v. Zant, No. CV 182-055.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • February 8, 1984
    ...corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained in an unconstitutional search or seizure was introduced at his trial. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 3052, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976). In Morgan's case, the trial judge and the 582 F. Supp. 1043 Georgia Supreme Court on dire......
  • Bell v. Lynbaugh, No. B-87-401-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • June 3, 1987
    ...that his second confession should have been suppressed as the tainted fruit of an illegal warrantless arrest. Under Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976), federal habeas review of Bell's Fourth Amendment claim is barred because the issue was litigated in the s......
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...(1980); United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268, 98 S.Ct. 1054, 55 L.Ed.2d 268 (1978); United States v. Calandra, supra; Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976). Because of this distinction, we cannot say that modification or abolition of the exclusionary rule ......
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5148 cases
  • U.S. v. Pace, Nos. 87-2529
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 15, 1990
    ...valuable, a search's illegality does not make the evidence gathered in that search any less probative or reliable. Cf. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 489-91, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 3050-51, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976); People v. Lucente, 116 Ill.2d 133, 107 Ill.Dec. 214, 220, 506 N.E.2d 1269, 1275 (1987......
  • Morgan v. Zant, No. CV 182-055.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • February 8, 1984
    ...corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained in an unconstitutional search or seizure was introduced at his trial. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 3052, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976). In Morgan's case, the trial judge and the 582 F. Supp. 1043 Georgia Supreme Court on dire......
  • Bell v. Lynbaugh, No. B-87-401-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • June 3, 1987
    ...that his second confession should have been suppressed as the tainted fruit of an illegal warrantless arrest. Under Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976), federal habeas review of Bell's Fourth Amendment claim is barred because the issue was litigated in the s......
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...(1980); United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268, 98 S.Ct. 1054, 55 L.Ed.2d 268 (1978); United States v. Calandra, supra; Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976). Because of this distinction, we cannot say that modification or abolition of the exclusionary rule ......
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5 books & journal articles
  • Agency Deference After Kisor v. Wilkie
    • United States
    • The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy Nbr. 18-1, January 2020
    • January 1, 2020
    ...Id. (quoting 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 201(b) (2019)). 197. Id. 198. See, e.g., Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 631 (1993); Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 480– 82 (1976); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 670–71 (1974). 2020] AGENCY DEFERENCE AFTER KISOR V. WILKIE 143 attempt to distinguish inde......
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    ...to a violation of constitutional rights,' and that this is a principle of 'liberty and justice for all.'" (first quoting Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 492 (1976); and then quoting 36 U.S.C. [section] 172 (1976))); Doe v. Renfrew, 451 U.S. 1022, 1027-28 (1981) (Brennan, J., dissenting from ......
  • PUNTING THE PRIVATE SEARCH DOCTRINE: How THE GOOD FAITH EXCEPTION IMPEDES FOURTH AMENDMENT JURISPRUDENCE.
    • United States
    • Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal Vol. 48 Nbr. 1, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...found in Leon and elsewhere). (130) Utah v. Strieff, 136 S. Ct. 2056, 2065 (2016) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting). (131) Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 492 (132) Id. (133) See Ingber, supra note 102, at 1536 ("For constitutionally guaranteed rights to represent something beyond simple platitude......
  • Civil Liberties Voting Patterns in the Burger Court, 1975-78
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 34-2, June 1981
    • June 1, 1981
    ...1689, n.4. Powell apparently agreed. 33 Powell’s campaign to restrict the scope of the habeas corpus remedy bore fruit in Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976) and Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72 who assert a violation of fundamental fairness.34 Like Stevens, he seems tomake distinctions ba......
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