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Florida v. Riley

Significance, Impact


State of Florida


Michael A. Riley

Petitioner's Claim

It is not unlawful under the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to hover in a helicopter 400 feet above the home of a person and look with the naked eye into the person's property.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Parker D. Thomson

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Marc H. Salton

Justices for the Court

Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Byron R. White (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

23 January 1989


An officer's observation, with the naked eye, of the interior of a partially covered greenhouse in a residential backyard from the vantage point of a helicopter positioned 400 feet above the yard does not constitute a search for which a warrant is required.

Related Cases

  • Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967).
  • California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207 (1986).

Further Readings

  • Epstein, Lee, and Thomas G. Walker. Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Rights, Liberties, and Justice. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1995.
  • New York Times, January 24, 1989.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994