United States v. Lefkowitz 19 23, 1932, No. 466

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBUTLER
Citation52 S.Ct. 420,285 U.S. 452,76 L.Ed. 877,82 A.L.R. 775
Decision Date11 April 1932
Docket NumberNo. 466
PartiesUNITED STATES v. LEFKOWITZ et al. Argued Feb. 19-23, 1932

285 U.S. 452
52 S.Ct. 420
76 L.Ed. 877
UNITED STATES

v.

LEFKOWITZ et al.

No. 466.
Argued Feb. 19-23, 1932.
Decided April 11, 1932.

[Syllabus from pages 453-455 intentionally omitted]

Page 453

The Attorney General and Mr. Thomas D. Thacher, of Washington, D. C. (Messrs. G. A. Youngquist, Asst. Atty. Gen., and John J. Byrne and Wilbur H. Friedman, both of Washington, D. C., on the brief), for the United States.

[Arguments of Counsel from pages 453-456 intentionally omitted]

Page 456

Messrs. David P. Siegel and Milton B. Seasonwein, both of New York City, for respondent.

[Arguments of Counsel from Pages 456-457 intentionally omitted]

Page 457

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question is whether searches and seizures claimed by the government to have been made as lawfully inci-

Page 458

dent to the arrest of respondents on a warrant for conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act transgressed their rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

January 12, 1931, a prohibition agent complained to a United States Commissioner in the Southern District of New York that commencing June 21, 1930, and continuing to the time of making the complaint Henry Miller (meaning respondent Lefkowitz), Jane Doe (meaning respondent Paris), and another person called Richard Roe did conspire to sell, possess, transport, furnish, deliver, and take orders for intoxicating liquor contrary to the National Prohibition Act (27 USCA). The complaint alleged it was a part of the conspiracy that from room 604 at 1547 Broadway defendants should solicit orders for liquor, have it delivered by express companies or other carriers, collect for it, and share the proceeds. It alleged certain overt acts but they have no significance upon the question under consideration. The allegations of the complaint show that the complaining witness had knowledge and information of facts amply sufficient to justify the accusation.

The commissioner issued his warrant, to which was attached a copy of the complaint, commanding the marshal and his deputies to arrest defendants. It was given to a deputy marshal for execution and he, the complaining witness, and three other prohibition agents went to room 604. The room was about ten feet wide and twenty feet long and was divided by a partition. In its outer portion, there were a stenographer's desk used by respondent Paris, a towel cabinet, and a waste basket, and in the inner part another desk and basket. When the deputy marshal and agents entered, Lefkowitz was in the room. The deputy marshal arrested him, and thereupon one of the prohibition agents searched and took from his person various papers and other things all of which were given to the deputy marshal and later turned over to the assistant United States attorney. The agents opened all the

Page 459

drawers of both desks, examined their contents, took therefrom and carried away books, papers, and other articles.1 They also searched the towel cabinet and took

Page 460

papers from it. 2 There was no breaking as the desks and cabinet were not locked. They also took the contents of the baskets and later pasted together pieces of papers found therein.3 Respondent Paris came in while the room was being searched, and the deputy marshal arrested her. All the searches and seizures were made without a search warrant. The prohibition agents delivered to the special agent in charge all the things taken from the desks, cabinet, and baskets. And, until delivered to the assistant United States attorney after Lefkowitz applied to the court for their suppression and return, they were held by the agent in charge for use in making further investigations concerning the conspiracy referred to in the complaint.

January 21, 1931, the District Court on the application of Lefkowitz issued an order to show cause, why the court

Page 461

should not make an order for the suppression of evidence obtained by reason of the search of the room and for the return of all the books, papers, and other things belonging to Lefkowitz. With the exception of some things that the prosecuting attorney did not wish to retain as evidence and which he had returned to Lefkowitz before the hearing, all the papers and articles seized were produced and submitted to the court. The Government submitted, in opposition to respondents' motions, affidavits of its attorney, the deputy marshal, and three of the four prohibition agents.

The District Court denied respondents' motions. It construed the complaint to charge felony under section 37 of the Criminal Code (18 USCA § 88) defining conspiracy and title 2, § 21 of the National Prohibition Act (27 USCA § 33) defining nuisance, held that each of the papers seized was, within the meaning of title 2, sections 21 and 22 (27 USCA §§ 33, 34), kept and used to maintain a nuisance; said that 'it is enough if the conspiracy was there or the petitioners or their associates had any of them gathered in the room to conduct the conspiracy or do any act to effect its object'; that 'it might well follow that, in the sense of the word as used in the Carroll Case (267 U. S. 132, 45 S. Ct. 280, 69 L. Ed. 543, 39 A. L. R. 790), supra, the seized papers were contraband'; and that 'it is not necessary, however, to determine that, for the reason that, at least within the Marron Case (275 U. S. 192, 48 S. Ct. 74, 72 L. Ed. 231) all the papers were but usual and ordinary means of carrying on a business of the character presented here.' 47 F.(2d) 921, 922.

The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. 52 F.(2d) 52, 54. It found that the search of the person of Lefkowitz was lawful and that the things taken might be used as evidence against him, held that the things seized when the office and furniture were explored did not belong to the same class, referred to 'the firmly rooted proposition that what are called general exploratory searches throughout premises and personal property are forbidden,' and said that it did not matter 'whether the articles of personal property

Page 462

opened and the contents examined are numerous or few, the right of personal security, liberty and private property is violated if the search is general, for nothing specific, but for whatever the containers may hide from view, and is based only on the eagerness of officers to get hold of whatever evidence they may be able to bring to light. * * * Such a search and seizure as these officers indulged themselves in is not like that in Marron v. United States * * * where things openly displayed to view were picked up by the officers and taken away at the time an arrest was made. The decision that does control is Go-Bart Co. v. United States, 282 U. S. 344, 51 S. Ct. 153, 75 L. Ed. 374. Indeed, this case differs in its essential facts from that one so slightly that what is said in that opinion in characterizing the search made will apply with equal force to this one, which must accordingly be held unreasonable.'

The government maintains that the facts and circumstances set forth in the affidavits submitted by it constitute a sufficient showing not only that the arrests were lawfully made on a valid warrant for the offense charged in the complaint but also that, without regard to the warrant, the arrests were justified as having been made for a felony by officers believing upon probable cause that respondents committed it and that when arrested they were actually engaged in the commission of crime. And it argues that, since the arrests were lawful, the search of the place where they were made was lawful, and that, having the right to search the premises, the officers were bound to do it thoroughly.

It is clear that respondents were arrested in...

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598 practice notes
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...Page 276 (1960); Giordenello v. United States, 357 U.S. 480, 486, 78 S.Ct. 1245, 1250, 2 L.Ed.2d 1503 (1958); United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 464, 52 S.Ct. 420, 423, 76 L.Ed. 877 (1932). In order to emphasize the magistrate's role as an independent arbiter of probable cause and to......
  • Ward v. City of Hobbs, No. CIV 18-1025 JB\KRS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 31, 2019
    ...empowered to issue warrants ... are to be preferred over the hurried action of officers ....’ " (quoting United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 464, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877 (1932) ). Because of the strong preference for warrants, "in a doubtful or marginal case a search under a warran......
  • Di Bella v. United States, No. 349
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • November 23, 1960
    ...74, 72 L.Ed. 231, with Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344, 51 S.Ct. 153, 75 L.Ed. 374, and United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877, compare Go-Bart, supra, and Lefkowitz, supra, with Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 67 S.Ct. 1098, 91 L.Ed......
  • Joe Sterling Et Al. on Habeas Corpus, In re, Cr. 10320
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1965
    ...search without a warrant. (Ker v. State of California, 374 U.S. 23, 42, 83 S.Ct. 1623, 10 L.Ed.2d 726; United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 467, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877; Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 309, 41 S.Ct. 261, 65 L.Ed. 647; People v. Haven, 59 Cal.2d 713, 719-720, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
598 cases
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...Page 276 (1960); Giordenello v. United States, 357 U.S. 480, 486, 78 S.Ct. 1245, 1250, 2 L.Ed.2d 1503 (1958); United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 464, 52 S.Ct. 420, 423, 76 L.Ed. 877 (1932). In order to emphasize the magistrate's role as an independent arbiter of probable cause and to......
  • Ward v. City of Hobbs, No. CIV 18-1025 JB\KRS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 31, 2019
    ...empowered to issue warrants ... are to be preferred over the hurried action of officers ....’ " (quoting United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 464, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877 (1932) ). Because of the strong preference for warrants, "in a doubtful or marginal case a search under a warran......
  • Di Bella v. United States, No. 349
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • November 23, 1960
    ...74, 72 L.Ed. 231, with Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344, 51 S.Ct. 153, 75 L.Ed. 374, and United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877, compare Go-Bart, supra, and Lefkowitz, supra, with Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 67 S.Ct. 1098, 91 L.Ed......
  • Joe Sterling Et Al. on Habeas Corpus, In re, Cr. 10320
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1965
    ...search without a warrant. (Ker v. State of California, 374 U.S. 23, 42, 83 S.Ct. 1623, 10 L.Ed.2d 726; United States v. Lefkowitz, 285 U.S. 452, 467, 52 S.Ct. 420, 76 L.Ed. 877; Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 309, 41 S.Ct. 261, 65 L.Ed. 647; People v. Haven, 59 Cal.2d 713, 719-720, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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