New York Versus Burger Case (1987)

Running head: NEW YORK VERSUS BURGER CASE (1987) 1

New York versus Burger Case (1987)

New York versus Burger Case (1987)
New York versus Burger is a case that brought before the supreme court of the United States in 1987. In this case, the petitioner, New York state, was pursuing a review of the decision that was made by New York’s Court of Appeal. In the case, the Court of Appeals had ruled that there was an unjustified inspection that was made by New York police on the plaintiff’s vehicle dismantling junkyard, based on New York Vehicle and Traffic Act § 415(a)(5). According to the Court of Appeals, this action was wrong, and it desecrated the Fourth Amendment. In this paper, I will explore the facts about the background of the case, the people that were involved, issues that transpired, where the event occurred, arguments that were raised, and the final ruling that was made by the court.
Background of The Case, People Involved, and Events that Transpired
The defendant of this case had a scrapyard in Brooklyn, New York. His business included the dismantling of vehicles and vending the parts that were obtained from these vehicles. On November 17, 1982, undercover police officers from New York’s automobile crimes department got into the respondent’s scrapyard to do an inspection based on New York Vehicle and Traffic Act statute. After getting into the junkyard, the police asked Burger, the plaintiff, to give them his license and police book. The police wanted to scrutinize the records of the vehicles and motor parts in his possession (Kellen & Monroe, 2013). However, Burger told the officers that he neither had the license nor the police book. The police officers told Burger that their intention was to carry out an inspection, as mandated by the New York Law. The respondent did not object. As stipulated by the law, the police officers recorded the identification numbers of the vehicles and auto parts that were found in Burger’s junkyard.
After scrutinizing the numbers that were recorded, the detectives concluded that the defendant possessed stolen automobiles, and motor vehicle parts. Burger was arrested and charged with possessing stolen properties and operating a nonregistered business of dismantling vehicles. However, the respondent moved to Kings county supreme court to subdue the evidence that was obtained from the inspection. After hearing the case, the court denied the motion and stated that the police acted within the law. The defendant went back to the court requesting for a reconsideration of the previous decision pursuant to the New York Vehicle and Traffic Act § 415(a). After reconsidering the case, the court ruled that the officers were not carrying out an administrative search, but were acting based on the evidence that indicated criminality in Burger’s business. The court restated its previous judgment and ruled that the inspection was constitutional.
Several arguments were brought forward before the final ruling was made. The first argument was based on the privacy of the owner of the business. Although the proprietor or operator of the commercial business has his own expectations of confidentiality, such anticipations are strictly regulated by the legal authorities. In cases where privacy interests of the proprietor are weakened, and the legal benefits of regulating specific businesses are concurrently intensified, unreasonable inspections of such businesses are outweighed by the provisions that are made in the Fourth Amendment. According to New York State (2009), the New York law recognizes any scrapyard that is a devoted to vehicle dismantling as a carefully monitored business. However, the distinct regulatory pattern has some importance, and New York’s scheme of regulating the automobile dismantlers is seen as a vintage law.
Some people believe that the common use of the vehicle is relatively new, and car dismantlers have not been existing for a long period of time. As a result, this business does not have ancient accounts of regime oversight. Moreover, the scrapyard vehicle business is a new sector of the industry. General scrapyards and secondhand workshops that have been existing are closely monitored in New York.
Nevertheless, a warrantless checkup is only deemed to be sensible as long as (1) a considerable government concern exists, (2) warrantless examinations are compulsory to further the monitoring scheme, and (3) the law authorizing such warrantless searches serve as a constitutionally acceptable substitute for the warrant. In this case, the fundamental concept was to determine whether the warrantless inspection of Burger’s vehicle junkyard was conducted based on the law that justifies the search, or it falls in the exceptions to the requirement for administrative searches of pervasively controlled industries.
The Ruling
The Court reversed the junior court’s verdict upon a discovery that the automobile dismantlers were part of the closely controlled business that carried a reduced anticipation of confidentiality, thereby decreasing the implementation of Fourth Amendment merit and probable cause necessities. Hence, the state’s approval of warrantless searches of scrapyards, concededly for the aim of uncovering misconduct, was not illegal. According to the supreme court, the search was done based on the New York’s vehicle law. The inspection clearly fell within the recognized exemption of warrant requirement for governmental searches in carefully monitored businesses. In fact, the disposition of the supervisory law reveals that the process of evaluating a junkyard is part of the devoted practices that are applied in vehicle dismantling. The court found that the inspection of Burger’s scrapyard fulfills the three principles that are essential to make realistic warrantless checkups.
First, New York state had a significant interest in monitoring the vehicle-dismantling business (Kellen & Monroe, 2013). This was based on the fact that vehicle theft had increased in New York, and the problem of robbery is linked with this business. Secondly, the regulation of the automobile dismantling business realistically serves the state’s substantial interest of eliminating motor vehicles theft. It is well known that the robbery issue can be addressed efficiently by dealing with the sellers of the stolen property. Thirdly, New York law offers a constitutionally acceptable substitute for the warrant. Furthermore, the law informs the proprietor of the automobile dismantling business that checkups will be made on a regular basis. Therefore, the owner of the firm recognizes that the inspections to which he or she is subjected do not include discretionary actions by the government officials but are done pursuant to the law.
New York versus Burger is one of the major cases that have been brought before the supreme court based on the Fifth amendment of the constitution. The case incorporates the issue of privacy on the part of the business owner, and the interest of the state to monitor critical activities in its territory. As mentioned above, the court ruled that the police officers were acting for the benefit of the state and were allowed to undertake warrantless inspections. Motor vehicle robbery is one of the major types of thefts that occur at the state level. As a concern, there is a requirement for the state government to regulate car businesses in its territory. One of the greatest methods of doing that is by monitoring the business of selling and dismantling vehicles. Therefore, the police did not act against the law by carrying out the inspection.

Kellen, F., & Monroe, G. (2013). New York versus Burger case; Critical summary of key fact. The New York Law Journal, 92(84), 65-71.
New York State. (2009). Reports of cases decided in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York: 5th series. St. Paul, MN: Thomson, West.

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