People v. Gordon


New York


New York Court of Appeals

Citation and Year

166 N.E.3d 514 (NY 2021)

Constitutional Provision or State Statute

N.Y. Const. art. 1, § 12 (4th Amendment cognate)

Nature of Case

After observing Tyrone Gordon selling heroin from his home, police officers obtained a search warrant to search Gordon’s “person” and the “entire premises.” In executing the warrant, police searched two vehicles located outside Gordon’s residence, in which they found heroin, cocaine, and a loaded handgun. Gordon filed a motion to suppress, and invoked the “particularity requirement” for search warrants—that warrants describe “with particularity” the places, vehicles, and persons to be searched. He argued that a warrant to search “premises” does not give law enforcement permission to search vehicles on those premises.


Under the New York state constitution’s analog to the Fourth Amendment, a warrant to search an entire residential “premises” does not entitle police officers to search cars on the property.


The court made clear that it would “exercise our independent authority to follow our existing state constitutional jurisprudence, even if federal constitutional jurisprudence has changed.” In prior decisions, the Court of Appeals had held that “evidence seized from a vehicle that arrived on a premises during the search of those premises must be suppressed,” and probable cause to search a residence after surveilling the residence did not mean there was also cause to search a vehicle that had been seen coming and going from the residence. Similarly, the court had recognized that cause to search a vehicle on certain property did not also mean cause to search a residence on those same premises.

Based on those cases, the court reasoned that “the warrant for Mr. Gordon’s ‘person’ or ‘premises’—in the context of the factual allegations averred by the detectives”—did not “authorize[] a search of the vehicles. As we stated [before], the mere presence of a vehicle seen at the site of premises wherein the police suspect criminal activity to be occurring does not by itself provide probable cause to search the vehicle.”