CJ Brief

Jackson Smith
Case Brief
February 23, 2015
Arizona v. Grant
556 US 332 [2009]
ARIZONA v. GANT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 February 2015. . Farb, Robert L. "Arizona v. Gant." (n.d.): n. pag. Sog.unc. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 26 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. . Facts

In Arizona the state police arrested Rodney Gant on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license. Once Gant was detained in the officers patrol vehicle, the officers began towards his vehicle and searched the vehicle. The officers discovered a plastic bag of cocaine for sale, and a handgun. Once Gant was received to trail, he asked the judge to cover up the evidence due to the officers not having the correct authorization to search the vehicle. The officers lacked a warrant for the search, which is in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Although, the judge declined Gant’s offer by claiming, the search was the direct result that Gant was arrested, and therefore exceptional to the Fourth Amendment. The court then proceeded to convict Gant on two accounts of cocaine possession. Then the Arizona Court of Appeals reversed, stating that the search was unconstitutional. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed. Due to Gant leaving his vehicle voluntarily, the court decided, that the search was not directly to why Gant was arrested, which is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard sought for certiorari, and argued the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling conflicted with the Court’s precedent.

Is the search coordinated by the officers after handcuffing Gant and securing the scene a contravention of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures? Holdings
Police officers are authorized the search of an area from which the arrestee might gain control of a destructible evidence or a weapon; but does not allow a search that is outside the arrestee’s reach. Therefore, police have access to search the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to arrest under Chimel v. California (395 U.S. 752 [1969]) only when the arrestee is unsecure and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment. The Supreme Court was in favor of Gant, stating that Chimel v. California established the purposes of searches incident to arrest. (a) Chimel v. California authorizes a search of the area from which an arrestee might gain control of a weapon or destructible evidence; it does not permit a search of areas outside the arrestee’s reach. (b) In U.S. v. Thorton, Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion where he argued that Chimel should not allow searches of vehicles, because whenever “sensible police procedures” take place, they will always prevent the arrestee from having access to the vehicle. As an alternative, Justice Scalia stated a broader search authority, which would then allow an officer to search the passenger compartment whenever it is “reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crimes of arrest might be found.” Majority Opinion

Part I – The Court’s Opinion and Ruling
The Court first discussed its ruling in Chimel v. California 395 U.S. 752 (1969), which authorized officers to search, as incident to arrest, the arrestee’s person and the area within the arrestee’s immediate control, which is the area from which the arrestee might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence. Next the Court then discussed the ruling in New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981), which directly applied to Chimel in the condition of vehicles. Belton states that any person lawfully arrested of a vehicle may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger...

References: Farb, Robert L. "Arizona v. Gant." (n.d.): n. pag. Sog.unc. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 26 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. .
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