BALDWIN v. U.S.
450 U.S. 1045

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

BALDWIN v. U.S. , 450 U.S. 1045 (1981)

450 U.S. 1045

Arthur Wayne BALDWIN
v.
UNITED STATES
No. 80-1031

Supreme Court of the United States

April 6, 1981

Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, dissenting.

In 1974, the Memphis Police Department began an investigation of petitioner and his business activities. To further this inquiry, an undercover police officer sought a position as petitioner's handyman and chauffeur. The agent was hired, and from July 1975 to December 1975 lived in petitioner's home. On several occasions during this 6-month period the agent found in the home what he believed to be cocaine. The agent took samples of these substances and gave them to his superior officers. On the basis of this evidence, petitioner was indicted for possession of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Justice BRENNAN would grant certiorari.

Prior to trial, petitioner moved to suppress the evidence on the ground that it was illegally obtained through a warrantless search of his home. The District Court denied the suppression motion and petitioner was convicted. The Court of Appeals also rejected petitioner's Fourth Amendment claim, concluding that there was no "precedent to support the suggestion that the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement agencies to seek prior judicial approval in the form

Page 450 U.S. 1045 , 1046

of a warrant before utilizing an undercover agent." 621 F.2d 251, 252 ( 6th Cir.). Two judges dissented from the subsequent denial of petitioner's request for rehearing en banc. 632 F.2d 1 (6th Cir.). Because the panel opinion resolves an issue of substantial importance in a manner not supported by our prior decisions, I would grant the petition for certiorari.

The Fourth Amendment accords special protection to a person's expectation of privacy in his own home. Payton v. New York 445 U.S. 573, 585, 589-590, 1379, 1381-82 (1980); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 561, 565, 3084, 3086 (1976); Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 511, 682 (1961). Absent special circumstances not present here,1 searches of a person's home are constitutionally unreasonable when conducted without probable cause and without a warrant. Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443 (1971); Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10 (1948). We have consistently held that these restrictions do not vanish simply because the government seeks to obtain incriminating evidence through deception rather than through a routine search. In Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 306, 264 (1921), a Government agent gained admission into the office of a criminal suspect on the pretext of paying a social visit. During the visit, the agent surreptitiously seized incriminating evidence that was later used in a criminal prosecution against the suspect. This Court, in unanimously concluding that the warrantless search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, reasoned:

"The prohibition of the Fourth Amendment is against all unreasonable searches and seizures and if for a Government officer to obtain entrance to a man's house or office by force or by an illegal threat or show of force, amounting to coercion, and then to search for and seize his private papers would be an unreasonable and there- [450 U.S. 1045 , 1047]


Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.