Nontelephonic Electronic Surveillance.—The trespass rationale of Olmstead was utilized in cases dealing with "bugging" of premises rather than with tapping of telephones. Thus, in Goldman v. United States,333 the Court found no Fourth Amendment violation when a listening device was placed against a party wall so that conversations were overheard on the other side. But when officers drove a "spike mike" into a party wall until it came into contact with a heating duct and thus broadcast defendant's conversations, the Court determined that the trespass brought the case within the Amendment.334 In so holding, the Court, without alluding to the matter, overruled in effect the second rationale of Olmstead, the premise that conversations could not be seized.
333 316 U.S. 129 (1942).
334 Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505 (1961). See also Clinton v. Virginia, 377 U.S. 158 (1964) (physical trespass found with regard to amplifying device stuck in a partition wall with a thumb tack).
Last modified: June 9, 2014