Gooding v. United States,
416 U.S. 430 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gooding v. United States, 416 U.S. 430 (1974)

Gooding v. United States

No. 72-6902

Argued February 25, 1974

Decided April 29, 1974

416 U.S. 430


Petitioner, charged with illegal possession of drugs, made a motion to suppress the physical evidence seized in petitioner's apartment on February 12, 1971, at 9:30 p.m. by District of Columbia police officers pursuant to a magistrate's search warrant. Although no provisions of the D.C.Code were explicitly referred to, petitioner apparently contended, inter alia, that the warrant was executed in the night-time in violation of D.C.Code § 23-521(f)(5), which specifically requires that search warrants be served in the daytime unless certain statutory conditions are met, none of which was satisfied here. The District Court granted petitioner's motion, rejecting the Government's contention that the warrant was issued under 21 U.S.C. § 879(a), which relates only to searches for "controlled substances" and provides that a warrant may be served "at any time of the day or night" as long as the issuing authority is satisfied that probable cause exists to believe that there are grounds for the warrant "and for its service at such time." The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that 21 U.S.C. § 879(a) was the applicable statute, and that its terms had been satisfied.


1. Title 21 U.S.C. § 879(a), which is part of a comprehensive federal scheme for the control of drug abuse, applies to this case. Pp. 416 U. S. 446-454.

(a) The standards for issuance of the warrant should be governed by nationwide federal legislation, rather than by local D.C. laws. An Assistant United States Attorney filed the application for the warrant with a Federal Magistrate, alleging violations of the United States Code for which petitioner was indicted. P. 416 U. S. 447.

(b) Though the affiant officer and the officers executing the warrant were D.C. police, rather than federal officers, and the legislative history of § 879(a) stressed federal enforcement, Congress manifested no purpose to dispense with the aid of other enforcement personnel in dealing with the narcotics problem. Pp. 416 U. S. 447-450.

Page 416 U. S. 431

(c) If petitioner's contention were to prevail, the general search warrant statute applicable to the District of Columbia would govern D.C. police officers when investigating federal drug violations but not other federal crimes, despite the fact that D.C. police officers historically played a prominent role in federal drug enforcement under 18 U.S.C. § 1405 (194 ed.), the predecessor statute of 21 U.S.C. § 879(a). Pp. 416 U. S. 450-454.

2. Title 21 U.S.C. § 879(a), as was true of its predecessor statute, requires no special showing for a night-time search, other than a showing, such as was made here, that the contraband is likely to be on the property or person to be searched at that time. Pp. 416 U. S. 454-458.

155 U.S.App.D.C. 259, 477 F.2d 428, affirmed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 416 U. S. 459. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS and BRENNAN, JJ., joined, post, p. 416 U. S. 461.

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