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Michigan v. Clifford

464 U.S. 287 (1984)

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Michigan v. Clifford

United States Supreme Court

464 U.S. 287 (1984)

Facts

A house owned by the Clifford family (defendants) caught fire. The fire department responded at 5:40 a.m. and put out the fire by 7:04 a.m. Fire investigators came to the house at 1:00 p.m. The investigators found an empty gas can by the front door that had been removed by the firemen. The investigators searched the basement and found more gas cans. The investigators also found an electric cooking pot attached to a timer that had been set to turn on between 3:45 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. The investigators determined that the fire had started in the basement. The investigators then searched the upper levels of the house. The investigators observed that there were nails in the walls with nothing hanging from them as well as wiring for a videotape machine, but no machine. The Cliffords were charged with arson. At trial, the Cliffords moved to suppress all evidence gathered in the house search because the investigators did not have a warrant. Michigan (plaintiff) argued that the search was reasonable under exigent circumstances. The Michigan trial court agreed with the state and allowed the evidence. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed. Michigan appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

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