Recznik v. City of Lorain - 393 U.S. 166 (1968)
U.S. Supreme Court
Recznik v. City of Lorain, 393 U.S. 166 (1968)
Recznik v. City of Lorain
Decided November 18, 1968
393 U.S. 166
Police officers, on the basis of tips from unidentified persons, "suspected a crime was being committed" on premises owned by petitioner. The officers noted an unusually large number of cars parked nearby, met petitioner outside the rear entrance to an upper apartment which was located over a cigar store closed for the night, warned him against illegal activities, and said they would return. They returned shortly, saw several men enter the apartment, climbed the stairs, and entered through the rear doorway unannounced. When petitioner emerged from a front room to tell the officers they could not enter, one of them through the open door saw a dice game in progress. They entered the room, arrested everyone present, and seized the money and equipment used in the game. Petitioner's motion to suppress the seized evidence was denied, the court ruling that the officers "entered this public establishment and observed gambling being conducted openly and in full view." Petitioner was convicted for keeping a gambling place and exhibiting a gambling device and these convictions were affirmed by the state appellate courts.
Held: Petitioner's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were infringed by the entry of the police onto his premises.
(a) There was no support for the finding that the apartment was a "public establishment," as the cigar store was closed and had a separate entrance, and the fact that a large number of persons congregate in a private home does not transform it into a public place.
(b) Entry was not justified as incidental to petitioner's arrest, as the police officers did not have probable cause to believe that a crime was being committed. Even where a search warrant is obtained, the police must show more than a mere assertion by an unidentified informer, and at least as much is needed to support a warrantless search.
Certiorari granted; reversed and remanded.