405 U.S. 1020 (1972)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

CHAPMAN v. CALIFORNIA , 405 U.S. 1020 (1972)

405 U.S. 1020

No. 71-615.

Supreme Court of the United States

March 27, 1972

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District.

It appearing that the state court decision is not final, the petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN and Mr. Justice MARSHALL concur, dissenting.

Petitioner operates a bookstore in Fremont, California. On two occasions, a police officer visited the store and purchased four magazines and one paperback novel. While in the store the second time, the officer also 'looked at parts' of 12 additional magazines and 14 other paperback books which were on petitioner's shelves. Based upon a reading of the four magazines, portions of the book, and the officer's conclusory affidavit, a magistrate issued an ex parte search warrant authorizing the seizure of the publications the officer had earlier purchased or perused. The warrant was executed and 7, copies of 35 different titles were seized. Among the items seized were 19 copies of nine magazines not specified in the warrant and apparently not previously evaluated by a magistrate.

Petitioner was charged with the sale or distribution of obscene matter in violation of Cal.Penal Code 311.2. Petitioner made a motion under 1538.5, 1539, 1540 of the Cal.Penal Code to suppress the evidence and to return the property seized. The municipal court ordered the return of the books which had not been specified in the warrant and of one book which it found not to be obscene. [Footnote 1] It denied petitioner's motion in all other res-

Page 405 U.S. 1020 , 1021

pects. On appeal, the Appellate Department of the Superior Court ordered the suppression of those items which had been seized without a prior adversary hearing on their obscenity vel non but affirmed the municipal court with regard to the materials which had been purchased. The State then appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed in part the judgment of the Appellate Department and vacated in part the judgment of the municipal court, thereby allowing the admission into evidence of all the items except the one which had been determined not to be obscene. 17 Cal.App.3d 865, 95 Cal.Rptr. 242. The Supreme Court of California denied a hearing and petitioner now seeks a writ of certiorari.

Our jurisdiction to review decisions of state courts is limited to '[ f]inal judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had . . ..' 28 U.S.C. 1257. The finality requirement, which has been with us since the Judiciary Act of 1789, 25, 1 Stat. 73, 85, is '[d]esigned to avoid the evils of piecemeal review,' Republic Natural Gas Co. v. Oklahoma, 334 U.S. 62, 67, 976, and is founded upon 'considerations generally applicable to good judicial administration.' Radio Station WOW, Inc. v. Johnson, 326 U.S. 120, 124, 1478. Our decisions make clear, however, that 'this provisions of the statute [has long been given a] practical rather than a technical construction.' Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 546, 1225. Thus, where denial of review would effectively foreclose our later consideration of a federal claim. California v. Stewart, 383 U.S. 903; 384 U.S. 436, 498 n. 71, 1640; Hill v. Chicago & Evanston R. Co., 140 U.S. 52, 54, 691; where postponement of review would seriously erode a federal policy, Local No. 438, Construction and General Laborers' Union v. Curry, 371 U.S. 542, 550, 536; Rosenblatt v. American Cyanamid Co., 3; or where determination of preliminary questions might [405 U.S. 1020 , 1022]

Disclaimer: 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.