Sibron v. New York
United States Supreme Court
392 U.S. 40 (1968)
In two separate cases, the New York government (plaintiff) successfully prosecuted Sibron (defendant) for possessing heroin and Peters (defendant) for possessing burglary tools. In Sibron’s case, a policeman, for eight hours, observed but did not overhear Sibron conversing with known drug addicts. The policeman stopped Sibron and told Sibron, “you know what I’m after.” Sibron mumbled a response and quickly stuck his hand in his pocket. The policeman reached into Sibron’s coat, where he found heroin, which became trial evidence. In Peters’s case, a policeman saw Peters fleeing from the scene of a suspected burglary, stopped Peters, frisked Peters for weapons, and instead found burglary tools in Peters’s possession. The tools were admitted into trial evidence. Each man appealed his conviction to the New York Court of Appeals, which found that the policemen’s actions were legal under a New York stop-and-frisk law and affirmed the convictions. Sibron and Peters appealed their convictions in federal courts, and the United States Supreme Court ultimately granted certiorari and joined Sibron’s and Peters’s cases to consider their Fourth Amendment implications. The government raised a threshold argument that Sibron’s petition for certiorari became moot when Sibron’s sentence ended: Sibron completed his six-month sentence after he filed a federal habeas petition but before the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. Sibron contested that he could not have brought the case earlier because Sibron could not obtain bail pending his appeal and through court-system delays, Sibron’s court-appointed appellate counsel did not receive a copy of Sibron’s court transcripts until a few weeks after Sibron was released from custody.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Warren, C.J.)
Concurrence (Harlan, J.)
Concurrence (Fortas, J.)
Concurrence (White, J.)
Concurrence (Douglas, J.)
Dissent (Black, J.)
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