17 F.2d 811 (E.D.Pa.), 1717, United States v. Griffin

Docket Nº:1717.
Citation:17 F.2d 811
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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17 F.2d 811 (E.D.Pa.)




No. 1717.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

George W. Coles, U.S. Atty, of Philadelphia, Pa.

Herbert W. Salus, of Philadelphia, Pa., for defendant.

DICKINSON, District Judge.

When this motion was first heard, United States v. Cooper (D.C.) 295 F. 709, had been reported. We reached the same conclusion which Judge Brewster had reached, but placed it on different grounds. The reasoning in the Cooper Case began with the proposition that the destruction of a large part of the property seized, having been without warrant of law, made the officers trespassers ab initio, and the seizure itself unlawful. We were unable to see that the commission of a trespass affected or even touched the real question, which was wholly one of constitutional immunity from unreasonable searches and seizures. A seizure under a lawful warrant could not be held to be an unreasonable one, but a

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seizure not in accord with the Fourth Amendment would not be lawful. Congress could not lessen the immunity granted by the Fourth Amendment, but it might extend it, which was done under the provisions of the Espionage Act (Comp. St. Secs. 10212a-10212h).

The proposition thus stands that a seizure not in conformity with the Espionage Act is not a lawful seizure, and, being unlawful, is unreasonable. The district attorney cannot offer what was seized in evidence unless he has it, and he has it by virtue of the return of what was seized. If it was not thus returned, he does not have it, and he does not lawfully have it, unless the return conforms to the requirement of the law. There are, inter alia, three elements in the requirements of the Espionage Act: (1) The issuance of a warrant; (2) a seizure; and (3) the return of what was seized. We upheld the legality of the issuance of the warrant, and hence refused to quash the writ. We likewise upheld the lawfulness of the seizure, but found there has not been a compliance in respect to the return. As it was through the return to the writ that the district attorney has possession of the evidence, we set aside the return and suppressed the evidence.

A very similar situation was presented in the case of Daeufer-Lieberman Brewing Co. v. U.S. (C.C.A.) 8 F. (2d)1, except that there only property rights were in question, not human rights as here. There the unlawfulness, as here, was not in the issuance of the warrant, but again, as here, in the mode of its execution and return. The trial court there, as here, had refused to quash the...

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