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Stonehill v. Diokno (1967) Ponente: Concepcion, C.J.

42 search warrants were issued by RespondentsProsecutors and Respondents-Judges against petitioners and/or the corporations of which they were officers. The warrants were directed to any peace officer, to search such persons and/or the premises of their offices, warehouses and/or residences, and to seize and take possession of personal property (documents, papers and things showing all business transactions), as the subject of the offense; stolen or embezzled and proceeds or fruits of the offense; or used or intended to be used as the means of committing the offense (in violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue Code and the RPC). Petitioners allege that the search warrants were null and void, as contravening the Constitution and the Rules of Court: 1. they do not describe with particularity the documents, books and things to be seized 2. cash money, not mentioned in the warrants, were seized 3. warrants were issued to fish evidence against petitioners in deportation cases filed against them 4. searches and seizures were made in an illegal manner 5. documents, papers and cash money seized were not delivered to the courts that issued the warrants Hence, this action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and injunction and prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain RespondentsProsecutors from using the effects seized in the deportation cases. Respondents: 1. search warrants are valid; issued in accordance with law 2. defects of warrants were cured by petitioners consent 3. effects seized are admissible in evidence The SC issued the writ of preliminary injunction, but was partially lifted or dissolved insofar as the effects seized from the offices of the corporations are concerned, but the injunction was maintained as regards the effects seized in the residences of petitioners. WON the petitioners can assail the legality of the warrants and of the seizures of those documents, papers and things in the offices of the corporations. SC: NO. Petitioners have no cause of action to assail its legality. Corporations have separate and distinct personality from petitioners. The legality of a seizure can be contested only by the party whose rights have been impaired thereby. Such objection is purely personal and cannot be availed of by 3rd parties. The right to object to the admission of said papers in evidence belongs exclusively to the corporations, to whom the seized

effects belong and cannot be invoked by the corporate officers. WON the effects seized in the residences of petitioners can be used as evidence against them. Petitioners: Those warrants are in the nature of general warrants, therefore the seizures effected are null and void. Constitution: Right against unreasonable searches and seizures. SC: NO. The warrants did not comply with the constitutional mandate that: 1. no warrant shall issue upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge 2. the warrant shall particularly describe the things to be seized No specific offense had been alleged in the same applications (only that natural and juridical persons therein named had committed a violation of Central Bank Laws, etc.). Consequently, it is impossible for the judges who issued the warrants to have found the existence of probable cause, for it presupposes the introduction of competent proof that the party against whom it is sought has performed particular acts, or committed specific omissions, violating criminal law. The applications do not allege any specific acts performed by petitioners. To uphold the validity of the warrants would be to wipe out completely one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and correspondence at the mercy of the whims, caprice or passion of peace officers. The warrants authorized the search for and seizure of records pertaining to all business transactions, regardless of whether such transactions were legal or illegal. The courts have adopted the Exclusionary Rule, the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures. All evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is inadmissible in a State. It is the exclusion of the evidence which an accused had been forced to give by reason of the unlawful seizure. (Right of Privacy and against unlawful searches and seizures secured by the Due Process Clause). The only possible explanation for the issuance of the warrant is the necessity of fishing evidence of the commission of a crime, but such is indicative of the absence of evidence to establish probable cause. Dispositive: 1. Warrants for the search of 3 residences of petitioners are null and void 2. Searches and seizures therein made are illegal 3. Writ of preliminary injunction is made permanent, in so far as the documents, papers and things seized in the aforementioned residences are concerned 4. Petition dismissed