Hill v. California

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Hill v. California by Byron White
Court Documents
Concurring Opinion

United States Supreme Court

401 U.S. 797

Hill  v.  California

 Argued: Jan. 19, 1970. --- Decided: Oct 21, 1970


Two men, who were driving petitioner Hill's car, were arrested for narcotics possession. A search of the car disclosed property stolen in a robbery the previous day. Both men admitted taking part in the robbery and implicated Hill, who shared an apartment with one of them. The guns used in the robbery and other stolen property were reported to be in the apartment. An investigating officer checked official records on Hill, verifying his association with one of the informants, his description, address, and make of car. The police, with probable cause to arrest Hill, but without a search or arrest warrant, went to his apartment, and there found a man matching Hill's description. The arrestee denied that he was Hill (and, in fact, he was not), and denied knowledge of any guns in the apartment, but the police, who spotted a gun and ammunition in plain view, arrested the man, searched the apartment, and seized guns, stolen property, other evidentiary items, and two pages of Hill's diary. Hill was convicted of robbery, substantially on the basis of items seized in the search. The trial judge ruled that the police acted in good faith in believing the arrestee was Hill. The District Court of Appeal agree that the officers acted in good faith and that the arrest was valid, but thought the search unreasonable. The California Supreme Court reversed, sustaining both the arrest and the search. Hill argues that Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 89 S.Ct. 2034, 23 L.Ed.2d 685, narrowing the permissible scope of searches incident to arrest, decided after the affirmance of his conviction by the state courts, should be applied to his case in this Court on direct review. Held:

1. Chimel, supra, is inapplicable to searches antedating that decision, regardless of whether the case is on direct or collateral review or involves state or federal prisoners. Williams v. United States, 401 U.S. 646, 91 S.Ct. 1148, 28 L.Ed.2d 388. P. 802.

2. The arrest and search were valid under the Fourth Amendment, since the police had probable cause to arrest Hill and reasonably believed the arrestee was Hill. Accordingly, they were entitled to do what the law allowed them to do had the arrestee in fact been Hill, that is, to search incident to arrest and to seize evidence of the crime they had probable cause to believe Hill committed. Pp. 802-805.

3. Since Hill's argument that the admission into evidence of pages of his diary violated his Fifth Amendment rights was not raised below, it is not properly before this Court. Pp. 805-806.

69 Cal.2d 550, 72 Cal.Rptr. 641, 446 P.2d 521, affirmed.

Joseph Amato, Santa Ana, Cal., for petitioner.

Ronald M. George, Los Angeles, Cal., for respondent.

Mr. Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).