What is a detailed timeline of the Supreme Court Case California vs. Greenwood?

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belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

California vs. Greenwood was a Supreme Court case in 1988, and dealt with the effect of the Fourth Amendment on warrantless search of garbage left on the curb. Billy Greenwood was suspected of dealing drugs, and police searched his garbage; evidence found there led to a warrant on his house and the discovery of more drugs inside. Greenwood argued that searching his garbage violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment, requiring a warrant to prevent unlawful search; after winning the case in California Superior Court, the decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, who ruled that garbage placed on the curb has no reasonable expectation of privacy.

There are a lot of sources online for this case; if you or your school has a LexixNexis account, the full case can be viewed here. Wikipedia has a short summary of the case, and Wikisource has some more information. The sources linked below also have a lot of information, some of which is obscure unless you have a strong understanding of U.S. law.

The brief summary would be as follows: Police are informed that Billy Greenwood is dealing drugs; police search Greenwood's garbage; police obtain a warrant and find drugs in Greenwood's house; Greenwood fights the case and wins in California; the Supreme Court overturns the decision.

bor's profile pic

bor | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

The SC granted Certiroari from the 4th District Appeals court of California, the SC Greenwood case cited; 182 Cal. App. 3d 729, 227 Cal. Rptr. 539; as reversed and remanded, so I simply keyed in the citation to retrieve the Appeals court case.

Most law libraries will have "state collections" of case law if you do not live in CA, that is another way to look it up in person.

The CA SC declined review, so the appeal came from the 4th District. Hope this helps some.


pdoces's profile pic

pdoces | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Thank-you, I have this information.  What I need is a timeline with dates.  This has been elusive.  I also need to discover who represented Billy Greenwood, and who paid the costs for this case to go to the Supreme Court.  I thought it would have been the American Civil Liberties Union, but have not been able to access any records that would give me that information.  I have included some of the sites that I have found helpful, they represent a very small amount of my research.  One, gives a very good basic out-line (without dates!!), that is helpful for a non-law high school student.

I appreciate your help.


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