California v. Hodari D.

California v. Hodari D. Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
499 U.S. 621 (1991)

ISSUE: Was a fleeing suspect "seized" when a police officer was right behind him chasing him but the officer had not yet had physical contact with the suspect?
HOLDING: No, an arrest requires either physical force or, where that is absent, submission to the assertion of authority.
FACTS:
  • 2 officers were patrolling a high-crime area in Oakland in an unmarked police car
  • The officers saw a group of 4-5 youths around surrounding car who fled when the police car approached
  • The officers gave chase; when one of the officers almost had Hodari, Hodari threw a rock of cocaine away
  • The officer then tackled Hodari and handcuffed him
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Trial ct. refused to suppress evidence
  • Ct. App. reversed, and the Cal. Sup. Ct. denied review
REASONING:
  • Need physical force or submission: An arrest requires either physical force or the submission to the assertion of authority
    • CL connotation of arrest meant more than merely grasping or applying physical force -- needed to bring the object with one's control
    • Merely touching, however slight, the body of the suspect is sufficient to constitute an arrest
  • Mendenhall test is only a necessary condition: TheMendenhall test, viz., a person has been "seized" within the meaning of the 4th Amdt. only if, in view of all the circumstances surrounding the arrest, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave, is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition of a seizure effected through a show of authority
DISSENT - Stevens:
  • Katz and Terry showed that the Court was taking a broader view to the seizure meaning
    • Those cases rejected the notion that the CL definition of arrest defined the limits of "seizure" under the 4th Amdt.
  • That Mendenhall only stated a necessary but not sufficient condition is nothing short of creative lawmaking
  • Police should be able to tell in advance at what point their actions will implicate the 4th Amdt.
COMMENTS:
NOTES:
  • Brendlin v. Calfornia: Unanimous Supreme Court held that a passenger in a car was "seized" when the car was stopped by the police to verify its temporary operating permit
    • Any reasonable passenger would understand that he was not free to depart without police permission
    • This also means that all passengers of a vehicle pulled over illegally by the police have "standing" to object to an illegal search (cf. Rakas v. Illionois).

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