Mapp v. Ohio - 367 U.S. 643 (1961)

Illegal Search and Seizure

On May 23, 1957, a bombing occurred at the home of Don King, a notorious policy racketeer who later became a famous boxing promoter. A few days later, Cleveland police received an anonymous phone tip that Virgil Ogletree, a suspect in the bombing, was at the home of Dollree Mapp. Officers from the Cleveland Bureau of Special Investigation, including Sergeant Carl I. Delau, Officer Thomas J. Dever, and Officer Michael J. Haney, surrounded Mapp's house and asked to be let in. Mapp called her lawyers, A. L. Kearns and Walter Greene, and was advised to let the police in if they could produce a warrant; the police admitted that they did not have a warrant, and so Mapp did not allow them inside. Lieutenant Thomas White arrived at the scene, and, believing they now had a warrant, the police forced entry into Mapp's home.

Mapp demanded to see the warrant. Sergeant Delau held out a piece of paper but did not allow Mapp to read it. Mapp grabbed the paper and put it down the front of her blouse. After a struggle, Delau retrieved the paper from Mapp's blouse. Next, the police handcuffed Mapp to her bed and proceeded to search her house for several hours. The paper that Sergeant Delau had was not a warrant. Indeed, at no time during the search did the Cleveland police have a warrant.

As a result of their search, the police found Ogletree in the basement apartment, along with an unloaded gun, some policy paraphernalia, and four "obscene" books and several "obscene" sketches.

Despite Mapp's protests that the illegal materials were the property of a former boarder, and thus did not belong to her, Mapp was arrested for possession of obscene materials – a felony under sections 2905.34 and 2905.35 of the Ohio Revised Code. OHIO REV. CODE §§2905.34-.35 (Supp. 1958). Mapp was indicted by the Grand Jury in Cuyahoga County. She pled not guilty, and the case went to trial at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.