Dyke v. Taylor Implement Mfg. Co., Inc.
391 U.S. 216 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dyke v. Taylor Implement Mfg. Co., Inc., 391 U.S. 216 (1968)

Dyke v. Taylor Implement Manufacturing Co., Inc.

No. 149

Argued January 18, 1968

Decided May 20, 1968

391 U.S. 216

Syllabus

In connection with a labor dispute, a Tennessee county chancery court issued an injunction which, inter alia, barred inflicting harm or damage to respondent company's employees. About a month later, a shot was fired from a car at the house of one of respondent's nonstriking employees. A deputy sheriff, presumably informed of the crime but without a description of the car or further details, pursued a suspicious car which raced away but was ultimately stopped by policemen, who arrested petitioners, the car's occupants, apparently for reckless driving. The deputy sheriff arrived, and he and the policemen noted a fresh bullet hole in the car. They took petitioners to jail, and the policemen parked the car on the street outside, apparently as a convenience to the car's owner. The deputy sheriff and several policemen made a warrantless search of the car and found an air rifle under the front seat. Over petitioners' objection, evidence about the gun was admitted at their trial before the chancellor for criminal contempt for violating the injunction. Petitioners were found guilty and given the maximum sentence of 10 days in jail and a $50 fine. The State Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting petitioners' contentions that the convictions violated their constitutional rights because a jury trial was denied and because evidence concerning the gun, which they claimed had been illegally seized, had been admitted.

Held:

1. In the light of the maximum sentence which the Tennessee statutes allowed, the criminal contempt for which petitioners were convicted was a "petty offense," to which the federal constitutional right of a jury trial does not extend. Pp. 391 U. S. 219-220.

2. The evidence in the record is insufficient to justify the conclusion that the officers, before they began their warrantless search of the car, had "reasonable or probable cause" to believe that they would find an instrumentality of a crime or evidence pertaining to a crime. The applicability of Brinegar v. United States,338 U. S. 160 (1949), to a warrantless search of a parked automobile upon probable cause therefore need not be decided, and petitioners' claim must be sustained that the gun was illegally

Page 391 U. S. 217

seized and evidence concerning it should not have been admitted at their trial. Pp. 391 U. S. 220-222.

219 Tenn. 472, 410 S.W.2d 881, reversed and remanded.

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