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Berger v. New York

United States Supreme Court
388 U.S. 41 (1967)


Facts

A New York state law authorized judges to grant warrants for eavesdropping via wiretap if there was reasonable ground to believe that the eavesdropping would uncover evidence of a crime. The state law required an oath of a district attorney, attorney general, or high-ranking police officer that such reasonable grounds existed for the eavesdropping. The oath was required to state at whom the eavesdropping was directed, the telephone number involved, and the duration of the eavesdropping, which could not be longer than two months. The State of New York (plaintiff) brought a claim against Ralph Berger (defendant) for bribery after wiretapping a conversation between Berger and a third party. Berger challenged the constitutionality of the statute, arguing that it violated the Fourth Amendment. The trial court held the statute was valid and the appellate court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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