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Weeks v. United States


Local police officers arrested the defendant without a warrant at his place of employment. Other officers went to his home. After a neighbor told the officers where the defendant secreted a key, they entered the house. The officers searched and found evidence of gambling paraphernalia that they turned over to the U.S. Marshal. Later that day, the Marshal returned to the house and found additional evidence. Neither the Marshal nor the local officers had a search warrant. The government used this evidence to convict the defendant of using the mails to transport gambling paraphernalia.


Whether the evidence seized by the U.S. Marshal was admissible?


No. As the evidence was obtained through unconstitutional means, it was not admissible.


Discussion An official of the United States seized the evidence acting under the color of office in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held the federal government could not use unreasonably obtained evidence in a federal courtroom. However, the fruit of the first search conducted by the state officers was admissible. “As the Fourth Amendment is not directed to the individual misconduct of such officials [state and local police officers],” the fruits of the state search were admissible in a federal trial.

NOTE: The Fourth Amendment would not be completely applicable to state actions until the Mapp v. Ohio decision in 1961.


232 U.S. 383, 34 S. Ct. 341 (1914)

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