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California v. Ciraolo

Significance, Unresonable Search And Seizure, The Liability Of Open Airspace, Impact


State of California



Petitioner's Claim

The respondent's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when law enforcement conducted aerial observation of his home and backyard which, in turn, resulted in his arrest and conviction for cultivating marijuana.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Lawrence K. Sullivan

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Marshall Warren Krause

Justices for the Court

Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

19 May 1986


Although conducted without a search warrant, aerial observation of the respondent's fenced-in backyard by law enforcement did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights.

Related Cases

  • Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57 (1924).
  • Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967).
  • United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983).
  • Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170 (1984).
  • Dow Chemical Co. v. United States, 476 U.S. 227 (1986).
  • Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988