Search Supreme Court Cases






No. 92-207. Argued March 24, 1993-Decided May 3,1993

Police arrested Luis Arciniega, after finding cocaine in a car he drove, and subsequently arrested respondents, Donald Simpson-the car's ownerhis wife, and Xavier, Maria, and Jorge Padilla, charging them with, inter alia, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Respondents moved to suppress the evidence discovered during the investigation, claiming that it was the fruit of an unlawful investigatory stop of the car. The District Court ruled that all respondents were entitled to challenge the stop and search because they were involved in a joint venture for transportation that had control of the contraband, reasoning that the Simpsons retained a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, and that the Padillas had supervisory roles and joint control over the operation. It concluded that the police did not have reasonable suspicion to make the stop and thus the evidence should be suppressed. Applying its rule that a co-conspirator's participation in an operation or arrangement that indicates joint control and supervision of the place searched establishes standing to challenge the search, the Court of Appeals affirmed as to the Simpsons and Xavier Padilla, and remanded for further findings whether Jorge and Maria Padilla shared any responsibility for the enterprise.

Held: The Court of Appeals' rule squarely contradicts this Court's rule that a defendant can urge the suppression of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment only if that defendant demonstrates that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the challenged search or seizure. See, e. g., Alderman v. United States, 394 U. S. 164, 171-172. Expectations of privacy and property interests govern the analysis of Fourth Amendment search and seizure claims. Participants in a criminal conspiracy may have such expectations or interests, but the conspiracy itself neither adds nor detracts from them. On remand, the court must consider whether each respondent had either a property interest that was interfered with by the stop of the car or a reasonable expectation of privacy that was invaded by the search thereof.

960 F.2d 854, reversed and remanded.

Acting Solicitor General Bryson argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Solicitor


Per Curiam

General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Mueller, and Joel M. Gershowitz.

Walter B. Nash III, by appointment of the Court, 507 U. S. 904, argued the cause for all respondents. With him on the brief for respondents Padilla et al. were Richard B. Jones and Natman Schaye. David A. Bono, by appointment of this Court, 506 U. S. 1077, filed a brief for respondents Simpson et al.*


The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has adopted what it terms a "coconspirator exception" to the rule regarding who may challenge the constitutionality of a search or seizure. Under its reasoning, a co-conspirator obtains a legitimate expectation of privacy for Fourth Amendment purposes if he has either a supervisory role in the conspiracy or joint control over the place or property involved in the search or seizure. This "exception," apparently developed in a series of earlier decisions of the Court of Appeals, squarely contradicts the controlling case from this Court. We therefore reject it.

While patrolling Interstate Highway 10 in Casa Grande, Arizona, Officer Russel Fifer spotted a Cadillac traveling westbound at approximately 65 miles per hour. Fifer followed the Cadillac for several miles because he thought the driver acted suspiciously as he passed the patrol car. Fifer ultimately stopped the Cadillac because it was going too slowly. Luis Arciniega, the driver and sole occupant of the car, gave Fifer his driver's license and an insurance card demonstrating that respondent Donald Simpson, a United States customs agent, owned the Cadillac. Fifer and Robert Williamson, an officer who appeared on the scene to assist Fifer, believed that Arciniega matched the drug courier profile. Acting on this belief, they requested and received Arci-

*John Wesley Hall, Jr., filed a brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

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