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decided: June 17, 1968.



Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas, Marshall

Author: Harlan

[ 392 U.S. Page 365]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1959 the respondent, Frank DeForte, a vice president of Teamsters Union Local 266, was indicted in Nassau County, New York, on charges of conspiracy, coercion, and extortion, it being alleged that he had misused his union office to "organize" owners of juke boxes and compel them to pay tribute. Prior to the return of the indictment, the Nassau County District Attorney's office issued a subpoena duces tecum to Local 266, calling upon it to produce certain books and records. The subpoena was served upon the Union at its offices. When the Union refused to comply, the state officials who had served the subpoena conducted a search and seized union records from an office shared by DeForte and several other union officials. The search and seizure were without a warrant and took place despite the protests of DeForte, who was present in the office at the time. Over DeForte's objection, the seized material was admitted against him at trial. He was convicted.

On direct appeal to the New York courts,*fn1 DeForte unsuccessfully argued, inter alia, that the seized material was constitutionally inadmissible in state proceedings under the rule laid down in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, because the search and seizure occurred without a warrant.*fn2 DeForte subsequently brought a federal habeas

[ 392 U.S. Page 366]

     corpus proceeding, in which he made the same contention. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York denied the writ, 261 F.Supp. 579, but on appeal the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and directed that the writ issue. 379 F.2d 897. We granted certiorari, 390 U.S. 903, to consider the State's*fn3 contention that the Court of Appeals erred in upsetting this state conviction. Concluding that the Court of Appeals was right, we affirm.


It is desirable at the outset to make clear what is and what is not involved in this case. The decision below was based solely upon a finding that DeForte's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, see Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23, 30-34, were violated by the search and seizure, and that the seized material was therefore inadmissible under Mapp. It is on this ground alone that DeForte argues for affirmance. Consequently, there is no occasion to consider whether DeForte might successfully have asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination with respect to the use against him of the seized records. Cf. United States v. White, 322 U.S. 694; Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361. Nor is there any need to inquire whether DeForte could have asserted a Fourth or Fifth Amendment claim on behalf of the Union, for he did not do so. Moreover, this is not a case in which it is necessary to decide whether the traditional doctrine that Fourth Amendment rights "are personal rights, and . . . may be enforced by exclusion of evidence only at the instance of one whose own protection was infringed by the search and seizure," Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, at 389, should be modified. Cf. id., at 390, n. 12. For DeForte claims

[ 392 U.S. Page 367]

     that under the traditional rule he does have standing to challenge the admission against him at trial of union records seized from the office where he worked. The questions for decision, then, are whether DeForte has Fourth Amendment standing to object to the seizure of the records and, if so, whether the search was one prohibited by the Fourth Amendment.


We deal, first, with the question of "standing." The Fourth Amendment guarantees that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." The papers which were seized in this case belonged not to DeForte but to the Union. Hence, DeForte can have personal standing only if, as to him, the search violated the "right of the people to be secure in their . . . houses . . . ."*fn4 This Court has held that the word "houses," as it appears in the Amendment, is not to be taken literally, and that the protection of the Amendment may extend to commercial premises. See, e. g., See v. Seattle, 387 U.S. 541; Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385.

Furthermore, the Amendment does not shield only those who have title to the ...

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