Katz v. U.S. Case Brief

Summary of Katz v. U.S. (1967)

Petitioner: Mr. Katz. Datz was charged with transporting illegal gambling information to other states through the telephone. The FBI agents wired a public telephone booth which Katz used and through this, they obtained evidence against Katz. No actual trespassing of the telephone booth took place during the phone tapping.

Respondent: U.S. Government

Issue: Did the wireing of the phone booth violated defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights?

Holding: Yes (overturned Olmstead v. U.S.)

Key Facts: In Olmstead v. U.S., the court had decided that Fourth Amendment applies only to tangible evidence.

Legal Reasoning: Unlike Olmstead, the court in the current case decided that the Fourth Amendment protects “people not places.” The court came up with a two prong Katz test to determine whether the defendant had the right to Fourth Amendment protection in the telephone booth. This test requires the defendant to show: 1. Whether he had a subjective expectation of privacy in the place where the search took place, and 2. Whether the society is ready to accept this expectation as reasonable. The court decided that Katz had reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone booth and his words were protected by the Fourht Amendment. The officers clearly did not have any exigent circumstances and they should have gained a warrant before intercepting the phone messages of the defendant.



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