The Case of Camara vs. Municipal Court

In protection of the Fourth Amendment

Municipal officials have no right to enter without permission the property of any person if they do not have probable cause and an authorized search warrant. The fact that they entered the private dwelling of the appellant without a warrant of permission is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and the principles embedded by it.

In early November 1963 two inspectors, without a warrant, requested the appellant to enter his private dwelling. But the appellant refused, so a citation was then mailed in his regard ordering him to appear at the office of the district attorney. The fact is that the appellant did not appear at the district attorney’s office. After a while, two inspectors showed up at the building on November 22. They told him that he was required by law to permit an inspection under § 503 of the Housing Code. The Appellant refused the inspector’s inspection of his apartment and asked them to return with a search warrant. After the refusal of inspection, the inspectors filed a complaint. This complaint charged the appellant with refusal to permit a lawful inspection which constituted a violation of the House Code. As a result, the appellant was arrested on December 2 but was released just a couple of days after.

The indisputable fact is that the inspectors demanded the appellant to permit an inspection of the premises of his private dwelling. This fact means that they acknowledged that the space they were required to inspect was the private habitation of the appellant. The Fourth Amendment is very clear that it is:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches…and without probable cause and warrant.”

In this case, the inspectors had no warrant, they had no probable cause because the first inspection was a routine one and its aim was other than to inspect the habitation of the appellant. Also, the inspection violation of the Housing Code does not apply because the appellant did not refuse a lawful inspection. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment does not quote that only criminal inspections need to have a warrant of probable cause but it includes all types of inspections, being those criminal or civil.

From all said above we can conclude that municipal officials have no right to enter without permission the property of any person if they do not have probable cause and an authorized search warrant. The fact that they entered the private dwelling of the appellant without a warrant of permission is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and the principles embedded by it.

The Fourth Amendment does not apply in this case

The Fourth Amendment does not apply to the case in discussion. The municipal inspectors had all the right to inspect the area in the case and the appellant had no right to prevent them because this inspection was not in violation of his private habitation rights which are included in the Fourth Amendment.

In early November 1963 two inspectors, without a warrant, requested the appellant to enter his private dwelling. But the appellant refused, so a citation was then mailed in his regard ordering him to appear at the office of the district attorney. The fact is that the appellant did not appear at the district attorney’s office. After a while, two inspectors showed up at the building on November 22. They told him that he was required by law to permit an inspection under § 503 of the Housing Code.

The Appellant refused the inspector’s inspection of his apartment and asked them to return with a search warrant. After the refusal of inspection, the inspectors filed a complaint. This complaint charged the appellant with refusal to permit a lawful inspection which constituted a violation of the House Code. As a result, the appellant was arrested on December 2 but was released just a couple of days after.

The case can be resolved by paying attention to the argument given at the beginning, the time when a first inspector of the Division of Housing Inspection entered the building to make a routine check. When he met the building’s administrator he received a complaint that one of the residents, the appellant, was using the rear of his leasehold as a personal residence. But the fact is that this was against the building’s occupancy permit. The permit in question does not allow residential use of the ground floor. By understanding this fact the inspector correctly confronted appellant and demanded from him to permit an inspection of the premise which late refused.

But this fact demonstrates that the inspector was not asking to inspect a private dwelling or habitat of the appellant. This because the residential use of the ground floor is not permitted, which means the appellant had no right to use that space. If he had no right in the first place to use that space, it cannot be evaluated as personal dwelling or private habitat. Being not a private space, the inspection on it is not a private dwelling inspection that needs a warrant or a probable cause. The Fourth Amendment includes the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, house…” but the space in question cannot be considered appellants house, so it has no relation with the Fourth Amendment.

From what said above it can be concluded that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to the case in discussion. The municipal inspectors had all the right to inspect the area in the case and the appellant had no right to prevent them because this inspection was not in violation of his private habitation rights which are included in the Fourth Amendment.

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