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ALDERMAN ET AL. v. UNITED STATES

decided*fn*: March 10, 1969.

ALDERMAN ET AL
v.
UNITED STATES



ON MOTION TO MODIFY ORDER OF REMAND TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas; Marshall took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: White

[ 394 U.S. Page 167]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

After the convictions of petitioners had been affirmed, and while their cases were pending here, it was revealed that the United States had engaged in electronic surveillance which might have violated their Fourth Amendment rights and tainted their convictions. A remand to the District Court being necessary in each case for adjudication in the first instance, the questions now before us relate to the standards and procedures to be followed by the District Court in determining whether any of the Government's evidence supporting these convictions was the product of illegal surveillance to which any of the petitioners are entitled to object.

No. 133, O. T., 1967. Petitioners Alderman and Alderisio, along with Ruby Kolod, now deceased, were convicted of conspiring to transmit murderous threats in interstate commerce, 18 U. S. C. §§ 371, 875 (c). Their convictions were affirmed on appeal, 371 F.2d 983 (C. A. 10th Cir. 1967), and this Court denied certiorari, 389 U.S. 834 (1967). In their petition for rehearing, petitioners alleged they had recently discovered that Alderisio's place of business in Chicago had been the subject of electronic surveillance by the Government. Reading the response of the Government to admit that Alderisio's conversations had been overheard by unlawful

[ 394 U.S. Page 168]

     electronic eavesdropping,*fn1 we granted the petition for rehearing over the objection of the United States that "no overheard conversation in which any of the petitioners participated is arguably relevant to this prosecution." In our per curiam opinion, 390 U.S. 136 (1968), we refused to accept the ex parte determination of relevance by the Department of Justice in lieu of adversary proceedings in the District Court, vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

The United States subsequently filed a motion to modify that order. Although accepting the Court's order insofar as it required judicial determination of whether any of the prosecution's evidence was the product of illegal surveillance, the United States urged that in order to protect innocent third parties participating or referred to in irrelevant conversations overheard by the Government, surveillance records should first be subjected to in camera inspection by the trial judge, who would then turn over to the petitioners and their counsel only those materials arguably relevant to their prosecution. Petitioners opposed the motion, and the matter was argued before the Court last Term. We then set the case down for reargument at the opening of the current Term, 392 U.S. 919 (1968), the attention of the parties being directed to the disclosure issue and the question of

[ 394 U.S. Page 169]

     standing to object to the Government's use of the fruits of illegal surveillance.*fn2

Nos. 11 and 197. Both petitioners were convicted of conspiring to transmit to the Soviet Union information relating to the national defense of the United States, 18 U. S. C. §§ 794 (a), (c), and of conspiring to violate 18 U. S. C. § 951 by causing Butenko to act as an agent of the Soviet Union without prior notification to the Secretary of State. Butenko was also convicted of a substantive offense under 18 U. S. C. § 951. The Court of Appeals affirmed all but Ivanov's conviction on the second conspiracy count. 384 F.2d 554 (C. A. 3d Cir. 1967). Petitions for certiorari were then filed in this Court, as was a subsequent motion to amend the

[ 394 U.S. Page 170]

     I.

The exclusionary rule fashioned in Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914), and Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), excludes from a criminal trial any evidence seized from the defendant in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Fruits of such evidence are excluded as well. Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385, 391-392 (1920). Because the Amendment now affords protection against the uninvited ear, oral statements, if illegally overheard, and their fruits are also subject to suppression. Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505 (1961); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967).

In Mapp and Weeks, the defendant against whom the evidence was held to be inadmissible was the victim of the search. However, in the cases before us each petitioner demands retrial if any of the evidence used to convict him was the product of unauthorized surveillance, regardless of whose Fourth Amendment rights the surveillance violated. At the very least, it is urged that if evidence is inadmissible against one defendant or conspirator, because tainted by electronic surveillance illegal as to him, it is also inadmissible against his co-defendant or coconspirator.

This expansive reading of the Fourth Amendment and of the exclusionary rule fashioned to enforce it is admittedly inconsistent with prior cases, and we reject it. The established principle is that suppression of the product of a Fourth Amendment violation can be successfully urged only by those whose rights were violated

[ 394 U.S. Page 172]

     by the search itself, not by those who are aggrieved solely by the introduction of damaging evidence. Coconspirators and co-defendants have been accorded no special standing.

Thus in Goldstein v. United States, 316 U.S. 114 (1942), testimony induced by disclosing to witnesses their own telephonic communications intercepted by the Government contrary to 47 U. S. C. § 605 was held admissible against their coconspirators. The Court equated the rule under § 605 with the exclusionary rule under the Fourth Amendment.*fn5 Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963), came to like conclusions. There, two defendants were tried together; narcotics seized from a third party were held inadmissible against one defendant because they were the product of statements made by him at the time of his unlawful arrest. But the same narcotics were found to be admissible against the co-defendant because "the seizure of this

[ 394 U.S. Page 173]

     heroin invaded no right of privacy of person or premises which would entitle [him] to object to its use at his trial. Cf. Goldstein v. United States, 316 U.S. 114." Wong Sun v. United States, supra, at 492.

The rule is stated in Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 261 (1960):

"In order to qualify as a 'person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure' one must have been a victim of a search or seizure, one against whom the search was directed, as distinguished from one who claims prejudice only through the use of evidence gathered as a consequence of a search or seizure directed at someone else. . . .

"Ordinarily, then, it is entirely proper to require of one who seeks to challenge the legality of a search as the basis for suppressing relevant evidence that he allege, and if the allegation be disputed that he establish, that he himself was the victim of an invasion of privacy."*fn6

This same principle was twice acknowledged last Term. Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364 (1968); Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377 (1968).*fn7

[ 394 U.S. Page 174]

     We adhere to these cases and to the general rule that Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights which, like some other constitutional rights, may not be vicariously asserted. Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377 (1968); Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960). Cf. Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U.S. 44, 46 (1943). None of the special circumstances which prompted NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), and Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249 (1953), are present here. There is no necessity to exclude evidence against one defendant in order to protect the rights of another. No rights of the victim of an illegal search are at stake when the evidence is offered against some other party. The victim can and very probably will object for himself when and if it becomes important for him to do so.

What petitioners appear to assert is an independent constitutional right of their own to exclude relevant and probative evidence because it was seized from another in violation of the Fourth Amendment. But we think there is a substantial difference for constitutional purposes between preventing the incrimination of a defendant through the very evidence illegally seized from him and suppressing evidence on the motion of a party who cannot claim this predicate for exclusion.

The necessity for that predicate was not eliminated by recognizing and acknowledging the deterrent aim of the rule. See Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618 (1965); Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206 (1960). Neither those cases nor any others hold that anything which deters illegal searches is thereby commanded by the Fourth Amendment. The deterrent values of preventing the incrimination of those whose rights the police have violated have been considered sufficient to justify the suppression of probative evidence even though the case against the defendant is weakened or destroyed. We adhere to that judgment. But we are not convinced that

[ 394 U.S. Page 175]

     the additional benefits of extending the exclusionary rule to other defendants would justify further encroachment upon the public interest in prosecuting those accused of crime and having them acquitted or convicted on the basis of all the evidence which exposes the truth.

We do not deprecate Fourth Amendment rights. The security of persons and property remains a fundamental value which law enforcement officers must respect. Nor should those who flout the rules escape unscathed. In this respect we are mindful that there is now a comprehensive statute making unauthorized electronic surveillance a serious crime.*fn8 The general rule under the statute is that official eavesdropping and wiretapping are permitted only with probable cause and a warrant. Without experience showing the contrary, we should not assume that this new statute will be cavalierly disregarded or will not be enforced against transgressors.

Of course, Congress or state legislatures may extend the exclusionary rule and provide that illegally seized evidence is inadmissible against anyone for any purpose.*fn9 But for constitutional purposes, we are not now

[ 394 U.S. Page 176]

     inclined to expand the existing rule that unlawful wiretapping or eavesdropping, whether deliberate or negligent, can produce nothing usable against the person aggrieved by the invasion.

II.

In these cases, therefore, any petitioner would be entitled to the suppression of government evidence originating in electronic surveillance violative of his own Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Such violation would occur if the United States unlawfully overheard conversations of a petitioner himself or conversations occurring on his premises, whether or not he was present or participated in those conversations. The United States concedes this much and agrees that for purposes of a hearing to determine whether the Government's evidence is tainted by illegal surveillance, the transcripts or recordings of the overheard conversations of any petitioner or of third persons on his premises must be duly and properly examined in the District Court.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN and MR. JUSTICE STEWART, who are in partial dissent on this phase of the case, object to our protecting the homeowner against the use of third-party conversations overheard on his premises by an unauthorized surveillance. Their position is that unless the conversational privacy of the homeowner himself is invaded, there is no basis in the Fourth Amendment for excluding third-party conversations overheard on his premises. We cannot agree. If the police make an unwarranted search of a house and seize tangible property belonging to third parties -- even a transcript of a third-party conversation -- the homeowner may object to

[ 394 U.S. Page 177]

     its use against him, not because he had any interest in the seized items as "effects" protected by the Fourth Amendment, but because they were the fruits of an unauthorized search of his house, which is itself expressly protected by the Fourth Amendment.*fn10 Nothing seen or found on the premises may legally form the basis for an arrest or search warrant or for testimony at the homeowner's trial, since the prosecution would be using the fruits of a Fourth Amendment violation. Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920); Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10 (1948); Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963).

The Court has characteristically applied the same rule where an unauthorized electronic surveillance is carried out by physical invasion of the premises. This much the dissent frankly concedes. Like physical evidence which might be seized, overheard conversations are fruits

[ 394 U.S. Page 178]

     of an illegal entry and are inadmissible in evidence. Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505 (1961); Wong Sun v. United States, supra. When Silverman was decided, no right of conversational privacy had been recognized as such; the right vindicated in that case was the Fourth Amendment right to be secure in one's own home. In Wong Sun, the words spoken by Blackie Toy when the police illegally entered his house were not usable against him because they were the fruits of a physical invasion of his premises which violated the Fourth Amendment.

Because the Court has now decided that the Fourth Amendment protects a person's private conversations as well as his private premises, Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the dissent would discard the concept that private conversations overheard through an illegal entry into a private place must be excluded as the fruits of a Fourth Amendment violation. Although officers without a valid warrant may not search a house for physical evidence or incriminating information, whether the owner is present or away, the dissent would permit them to enter that house without consent and without a warrant, install a listening device, and use any overheard third-party conversations against the owner in a criminal case, in spite of the obvious violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be secure in his own dwelling. Even if the owner is present on his premises during the surveillance, he would have no complaint unless his own conversations were offered or used against him. Information from a telephone tap or from the microphone in the kitchen or in the rooms of guests or children would be freely usable as long as the homeowner's own conversations are not monitored and used against him. Indeed, if the police, instead of installing a device, secreted themselves on the premises, they could neither testify about nor use against the owner anything they

[ 394 U.S. Page 179]

     saw or carried away, but would be free to use against him everything they overheard except his own conversations. And should police overhear third parties describing narcotics which they have discovered in the owner's desk drawer, the police could not then open the drawer and seize the narcotics, but they could secure a warrant on the basis of what they had heard and forthwith seize the narcotics pursuant to that warrant.*fn11

These views we do not accept. We adhere to the established view in this Court that the right to be secure in one's house against unauthorized intrusion is not limited to protection against a policeman viewing or seizing tangible property -- "papers" and "effects." Otherwise, the express security for the home provided by the Fourth Amendment would approach redundancy. The rights of the owner of the premises are as clearly

[ 394 U.S. Page 180]

     invaded when the police enter and install a listening device in his house as they are when the entry is made to undertake a warrantless search for tangible property; and the prosecution as surely employs the fruits of an illegal search of the home when it offers overheard third-party conversations as it does when it introduces tangible evidence belonging not to the homeowner, but to others. Nor do we believe that Katz, by holding that the Fourth Amendment protects persons and their private conversations, was intended to withdraw any of the protection which the Amendment extends to the home or to overrule the existing doctrine, recognized at least since Silverman, that conversations as well as property are excludable from the criminal trial when they are found to be the fruits of an illegal invasion of the home. It was noted in Silverman, 365 U.S., at 511-512, that

"This Court has never held that a federal officer may without warrant and without consent physically entrench into a man's office or home, there secretly observe or listen, and relate at the man's subsequent criminal trial what was seen or heard."

The Court proceeded to hold quite the contrary. We take the same course here.

III.

The remaining aspect of these cases relates to the procedures to be followed by the District Court in resolving the ultimate issue which will be before it -- whether the evidence against any petitioner grew out of his illegally overheard conversations or conversations occurring on his premises.*fn12 The question ...


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