IRVINE v. CALIFORNIA
Patrick Irvine was suspected by police of placing bets on horse racing and serving as a bookmaker in violation of California state law. Acting on their suspicions, the police duplicated the key to Irvine's residence and installed a microphone inside. Through the microphone, which was moved between several locations within the house, police obtained evidence that was submitted in Irvine's trial. When Irvine was arrested, he was found in possession of a federal wagering tax stamp as required by federal tax law. Irvine was convicted in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. He challenged his conviction, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure (as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment) were violated and therefore the evidence admitted during his state court trial should have been excluded. The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate Division upheld his conviction.
Should evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizure require the exclusion of such evidence in a state court trial for violation of state criminal law?
No. In a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld Irvine's conviction though without commanding a majority as to the Court's reasoning. Announcing the judgment and writing for a plurality, Justice Robert H. Jackson acknowledged and criticized the conduct of the police, which "flagrantly, deliberately, and persistently violated the fundamental principle declared by the Fourth Amendment." However, as in Wolf v. Colorado, "the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid the admission of evidence obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure." The evidence obtained from the microphone did not have to be excluded from Irvine's trial, and was admitted consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, though Irvine's constitutional rights were violated, his conviction was nonetheless valid. Justice Tom C. Clark authored a concurring opinion.