Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 3 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

Michael O. Freeman argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General of Minnesota, Patrick C. Diamond, and Beverly J. Wolfe.

Richard H. Seamon argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Mueller, Deputy Solicitor General Bryson, and Kathleen A. Felton.

Peter W. Gorman argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were William R. Kennedy, David H. Knutson, Warren R. Sagstuen, and Renée J. Bergeron.*

Justice White delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, we consider whether the Fourth Amendment permits the seizure of contraband detected through a police officer's sense of touch during a protective patdown search.


On the evening of November 9, 1989, two Minneapolis police officers were patrolling an area on the city's north side in a marked squad car. At about 8:15 p.m., one of the officers observed respondent leaving a 12-unit apartment building on Morgan Avenue North. The officer, having previously responded to complaints of drug sales in the building's hallways and having executed several search warrants on the premises, considered the building to be a notorious "crack house." According to testimony credited by the trial court, respondent began walking toward the police but, upon spot-*Fred E. Inbau, Wayne W. Schmidt, James P. Manak, and Robert H. Macy filed a brief for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, Inc., et al. urging reversal.

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by John F. Savarese, Steven R. Shapiro, and Deborah Gilman; and for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers by David M. Eldridge.

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