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Hester v. United States

U.S.
May 4, 1924
265 U.S. 57 (1924)

Summary

holding that "the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their `persons, houses, papers and effects' is not extended to the open fields"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Titemore

Opinion

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

No. 243.

Submitted April 24, 1924. Decided May 5, 1924.

1. In a prosecution for concealing spirits, admission of testimony of revenue officers as to finding moonshine whiskey in a broken jug and other vessels near the house where the defendant resided and as to suspicious occurrences in that vicinity at the time of their visit, held not violative of the Fourth or Fifth Amendments, even though the witnesses held no warrant and were trespassers on the land, the matters attested being merely acts and disclosures of defendant and his associates outside the house. P. 58. 2. The protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their "persons, houses, papers, and effects," does not extend to open fields. Id. Affirmed.

ERROR to a judgment of the District Court sentencing the plaintiff in error who was convicted by a jury of concealing distilled spirits, in violation of Rev. Stats., § 3296.

Mr. Richard A. Ford for plaintiff in error. Mr. H.P. Burbage was also on the brief.

Mr. Solicitor General Beck and Mrs. Mabel Walker Willebrandt, Assistant Attorney General, for the United States.


The plaintiff in error, Hester, was convicted of concealing distilled spirits c. under Rev. Stats., § 3296. The case is brought here directly from the District Court on the single ground that by refusing to exclude the testimony of two witnesses and to direct a verdict for the defendant, the plaintiff in error, the Court violated his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

The witnesses whose testimony is objected to were revenue officers. In consequence of information they went toward the house of Hester's father, where the plaintiff in error lived, and as they approached saw one Henderson drive near to the house. They concealed themselves from fifty to one hundred yards away and saw Hester come out and hand Henderson a quart bottle. An alarm was given. Hester went to a car standing near, took a gallon jug from it and he and Henderson ran. One of the officers pursued, and fired a pistol. Hester dropped his jug, which broke but kept about a quart of its contents. Henderson threw away his bottle also. The jug and bottle both contained what the officers, being experts, recognized as moonshine whiskey, that is whiskey illicitly distilled; said to be easily recognizable. The other officer entered the house, but being told there was no whiskey there left it, but found outside a jar that had been thrown out and broken and that also contained whiskey. While the officers were there other cars stopped at the house but were spoken to by Hester's father and drove off. The officers had no warrant for search or arrest, and it is contended that this made their evidence inadmissible, it being assumed, on the strength of the pursuing officer's saying that he supposed they were on Hester's land, that such was the fact. It is obvious that even if there had been a trespass, the above testimony was not obtained by an illegal search or seizure. The defendant's own acts, and those of his associates, disclosed the jug, the jar and the bottle — and there was no seizure in the sense of the law when the officers examined the contents of each after it had been abandoned. This evidence was not obtained by the entry into the house and it is immaterial to discuss that. The suggestion that the defendant was compelled to give evidence against himself does not require an answer. The only shadow of a ground for bringing up the case is drawn from the hypothesis that the examination of the vessels took place upon Hester's father's land. As to that, it is enough to say that, apart from the justification, the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their "persons, houses, papers, and effects," is not extended to the open fields. The distinction between the latter and the house is as old as the common law. 4 Bl. Comm. 223, 225, 226.

Judgment affirmed.


Summaries of

Hester v. United States

U.S.
May 4, 1924
265 U.S. 57 (1924)

holding that "the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their `persons, houses, papers and effects' is not extended to the open fields"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Titemore

holding no seizure within the Fourth Amendment occurred when revenue agents picked up and examined containers dropped by moonshiners during a pursuit by revenuers because the moonshiners abandoned the containers when they dropped them.

Summary of this case from United States v. Houston

holding that the Fourth Amendment accords "special protection . . . to the people in their `persons, houses, papers and effects.'" (quoting U.S. Const. amend. IV)

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Dorlette

finding in the Prohibition-era case, "[t]he defendant's own acts, and those of his associates, disclosed the jug, the jar and the bottle"

Summary of this case from State v. Lewis

upholding officers' examination of illegal whiskey bottles dropped by defendant and a companion

Summary of this case from State v. Borders

recognizing the “open fields” doctrine

Summary of this case from United States v. Jackson

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57 (1924), the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not extend to open fields.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Smith

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 59, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the Supreme Court first held that the protection of the Fourth Amendment did not extend to open fields.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Vankesteren

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), Justice Holmes excluded "open fields" from Fourth Amendment protections. Hester, 265 U.S. at 59, 44 S.Ct. 445 (holding that "the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their `persons, houses, papers and effects' is not extended to the open fields").

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Titemore

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy does not extend to a person's open fields.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Barajas-Avalos

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy does not extend to a person's open fields.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Barajas-Avalos

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 59, 44 S.Ct. 445, 446, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the Supreme Court held that "the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their `persons, houses, papers, and effects,' is not extended to the open fields".

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Eastland

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Holmes, unanimously held that the protection of the Fourth Amendment does not extend to open fields.

Summary of this case from United States v. Oliver

In Hester, the Supreme Court held that federal agents could trespass on an area where the public was not excluded during a warrantless search and view that which was exposed to the public without violating the Fourth Amendment. That which is observable by the public is observable by a federal agent without a warrant.

Summary of this case from United States v. Oliver

In Hester, the term "open field" was used to describe the area beyond the curtilage from which the public was not excluded. Note that Olmstead uses the label "open field" to denote any area beyond the curtilage.

Summary of this case from United States v. Oliver

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 59, 44 S.Ct. 445, 446, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), Justice Holmes enunciated for the Court what has since become to be known as the "open fields" doctrine.

Summary of this case from United States v. Lace

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the case in which the open field exception was recognized by the Supreme Court, revenue officers ventured on property belonging to Hester's father.

Summary of this case from United States v. Ramapuram

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), the court held that the protection provided by the Fourth Amendment to the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their "persons, houses, papers and effects" is not extended to open fields.

Summary of this case from United States v. Freie

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), involving a conviction of concealing distilled spirits, the Supreme Court affirmed the refusal to exclude the testimony of revenue officers of their finding moonshine whiskey near the house where the defendant resided even though the witnesses had no search warrant and were trespassers on the land.

Summary of this case from United States ex Rel. Saiken v. Bensinger

In Hester, supra, revenue agents concealed themselves fifty to one-hundred yards from a house, saw Hester come from the house, hand a bottle to another man, and arrested them both without a warrant.

Summary of this case from Fullbright v. United States

In Hester, supra, the vantage point held in effect not to be within the curtilage was approximately the distance the officers were from the shed in the present case, between fifty to one-hundred yards from the home.

Summary of this case from Fullbright v. United States

In Hester, supra, the enforcement officers obtained their information that a crime was being committed by concealing themselves at a point from fifty to a hundred yards from the defendant's residence.

Summary of this case from Wattenburg v. United States

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 59, 44 S.Ct. 445, 446, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924), Justice Holmes said "the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their `persons, houses, papers, and effects,' is not extended to the open fields.

Summary of this case from United States v. Whitmore

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S. Ct. 445, 68 L. Ed. 898, it was held that, in a prosecution for a violation of this same section 3296, admission of testimony of revenue officers as to finding moonshine whisky in a broken jug and other vessels near the house where the defendant resided, was not error, and that the search made was not a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, even though the officers held no warrant and were trespassers on the land.

Summary of this case from Benton v. United States

In Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S. Ct. 445, 68 L. Ed. 898, Hester had been convicted of selling distilled spirits, on the testimony of two revenue officers who had seen him hand a quart bottle to another man. Upon the officers coming forward, this man threw the bottle away, and Hester went to a car standing near, took out a gallon jug from the machine, and, in attempting to get away, dropped the jug.

Summary of this case from Bolt v. United States
Case details for

Hester v. United States

Case Details

Full title:HESTER v . UNITED STATES

Court:U.S.

Date published: May 4, 1924

Citations

265 U.S. 57 (1924)
44 S. Ct. 445

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