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Stoner v. California

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Criminal Procedure keyed to Weinreb

Citation. Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483, 84 S. Ct. 889, 11 L. Ed. 2d 856, 1964 U.S. LEXIS 1579 (U.S. Mar. 23, 1964)

Brief Fact Summary. An individual was convicted of armed robbery after a jury trial. Various items were taken from his hotel room without a search or arrest warrant.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. “No less than a tenant of a house, or the occupant of a room in a boarding house, a guest in a hotel room is entitled to constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. That protection would disappear if it were left to depend upon the unfettered discretion of an employee of the hotel. It follows that this search without a warrant was unlawful.”


Facts. The Petitioner, Stoner (the “Petitioner”), was convicted of armed robbery. Two individuals robbed a supermarket. One was described by eyewitnesses as carrying a gun, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a gray jacket. Shortly after the robbery, the Petitioner’s check book was found in an adjacent parking lot and turned over to the police. Two of the checks in the book were made out to a hotel in the area. The police learned the Petitioner had a criminal record and obtained a picture of him. They showed the Petitioner’s picture to two eyewitness to the robbery, and they said the photograph resembled the Petitioner. Pursuant to that information, the police went to the hotel without a search or arrest warrant. They obtained the consent of the hotel clerk to conduct a search of the Petitioner’s room. The police entered the Petitioner’s room and made a thorough search of its contents. In the room, the police found a pair of horn rimmed glasses, a .45-calibur automatic pistol w
ith a clip, and several cartridges. The Petitioner was arrested two days later in Las Vegas and the items found in the hotel room were used against him during the trial.
The state District Court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and the Supreme Court of California refused to review the decision. The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiori.

Issue. “[W]hether evidence was admitted [during the Petitioner’s trial] which had been obtained by an unlawful search and seizure.”

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