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UNITED STATES EX REL. METZE v. NEW YORK
August 1, 1969
UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Lawrence METZE, Petitioner,
The STATE OF NEW YORK and the Warden of Sing Sing Prison, Respondents
The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRANKEL
This habeas corpus petition presents a serious question as to the validity under the Fourteenth Amendment - duplicating the Fourth for this purpose, Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 110, 84 S. Ct. 1509, 12 L. Ed. 2d 723 (1964) - of a search warrant leading to the conviction and prison sentence against which the writ is sought. More specifically, the problem centers upon the affidavit of a police officer which was the basis for issuance of the warrant.
The story, as it concerns us, begins on March 7, 1965, when Detective Robert R. Rua of the Narcotics Bureau, New York City Police Department, made the affidavit and a Criminal Court Judge issued the warrant. The affidavit reads as follows:
"1. I am Det. Robert R. Rua #2468 N.B. N.Y.CPD.
"2. I have information based upon information given to me by a confidential informant who in the past has given me information that had led me to mkake (make) arrest which has led to convictions of more than five people for violations of the narcotics laws as Felonies.
Observations made on premises 1470 Sterling Pl., Bklyn. on March 6, 1965 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, during which time known drug users and sellers were observed entering and leaving the premises under observation. Because of observation and information derived through confidential informant, it is ascertained that the appropriate time to serve this search warrant would be in the night time.
"3. Based upon the foregoing reliable information and upon my personal knowledge there is probable cause to believe that such property namely narcotics and narcotic paraphernalia and may be found in the possession of Lawrence Mets or at premises 1470 Sterling Pl Apt. 4H, Bklyn.NY.
"WHEREFORE, I respectfully request that the court issue a warrant and order of seizure, in the form annexed, authorizing the search of
and directing that if such property or evidence or any part thereof be found that it be seized and brought before the court; together with such other and further relief that the court may deem proper.
"No previous application in this matter has been made in this or any other court or to any other judge, justice or magistrate."
There is no evidence that the Judge considered anything other than the affidavit when he issued the warrant.
On the next night, March 8, Detective Rua and two of his colleagues executed the warrant by entering and searching petitioner's four-room apartment in the presence of petitioner and his wife. The search lasted about an hour.
In the course of it, the officers found three marijuana cigarettes in the top drawer of petitioner's bureau. Having completed the search, they placed petitioner under arrest.
In the brief conversation attending and immediately following the arrest, Detective Rua asked petitioner if he had any more narcotics. According to Rua, whose disputed testimony was accepted in the State Court and is accepted here (see note 3, supra), petitioner replied:
"Yes, I do, but I don't want to get my wife involved. I have them in the trunk of my ...
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