Everest University Online
Criminal Procedure and the Constitution – 2
Instructor Lisa Story
Brief Fact Summary - Federal agents attached a device used for eavesdropping to a public phone, when they acted on a tip that Charles Katz was transmitting gambling information through the phone to his clients in other states. When the recordings were reviewed, Katz was convicted of eight counts of illegal transmission of wagering information from Los Angeles to Boston to Miami. Katz appealed; stating that his conviction wasn’t legal because the recordings could not be used as evidence against him. After the Court of Appeals rejected noting the absence of any physical intrusion of the phone booth, The Court grant certiorari.
Procedural History – Mr. Katz tried to exclude the evidence connected with the wiretaps, arguing that the wiretapping (warrantless) stating that the search of the phone booth was considered unreasonable because it is a “continually protected area”, which violates the Fourth Amendment. This was countered saying that the public booth was not a protected area, therefore they could place the wiretap without a warrant.
Issue – “Does the warrantless wiretapping of a public phone booth violate the unreasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution?” FACTS AND CASE SUMMARY: KATZ V. UNITED STATES. (n.d.).
Rule – Yes, it does
Conclusion – In a 7-1 vote, the Court agreed with Katz and held that a wiretap (warrantless) on a public phone booth is an unreasonable search and is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The majority opinion did not address the case from the viewpoint of a “constitutionally protected area.” But rather, the majority argued the both Katz and the Federal agents were both wrong. The Fourth Amendment does not protect places, it protects people. So if a person knowingly exposes something to the public, even if he/she is in their own home, it is not protected under the Fourth Amendment. But if he tries to preserve it as private even though the area is accessible to the public, it may be protect.
Justice Harlan’s formulation of the privacy test was a two-pronged test to address this issue. The Supreme Court