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Search & Seizure Commentary
By Peter W. Fenton
Chimel v. California 40 Years Later
Late in the afternoon of September 13, 1965, three police officers arrived at the home of Ted Chimel.1 The officers were armed with a warrant for Chimel’s arrest related to the burglary of a coin shop. The officers knocked and identified themselves to Chimel’s wife, and asked to come inside. Mrs. Chimel admitted the police to her house, and they waited for 10 or 15 minutes until Chimel returned home from work. At that time one of the officers handed him the arrest warrant and asked for permission to “look around.” Chimel objected, but was advised by the police that “on the basis of the lawful arrest,” the officers would nonetheless conduct a search, even though no search warrant had been issued.2
For the next 45 minutes to one hour, the officers directed Mrs. Chimel to help them look through the entire three-bedroom house, including the attic, the garage, and a small workshop. Although they searched all the rooms, some cursorily, the search was more t
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