Texas v. Brown 460 U.S. 730 (1983)
TEXAS v. BROWN 460 U.S. 730 (1983)
This case is significant for Justice william h. rehnquist's exposition of the scope and applicability of the plain view doctrine, which had emerged in coolidge v. new hampshire (1971) as an exception to the warrant requirement for a search and seizure. According to Rehnquist, the answer to the question whether property in plain view may be seized depends on the lawfulness of the intrusion that allows the police to see that property. Plain view therefore provides the basis for seizure if an officer's access to the object has a prior fourth amendment justification. The police may seize a suspicious object if they are engaged in a lawful activity; they do not have to know at once that the object inadvertently exposed to their sight is evidence of a crime. Reasonable suspicion on probable cause is sufficient even if the property seized was not immediately apparent as evidence of crime. No Justice dissented in this case, but Rehnquist spoke for a mere plurality, and a mere plurality had announced the plain view doctrine in Coolidge. Accordingly, judicial controversy about the doctrine will continue, as will controversy about its application to particular facts.
Leonard W. Levy