280 A.2d 158 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1971), State v. Anonymous (1971-18)

Citation:280 A.2d 158, 6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 573
Opinion Judge:[6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 574] JACOBS, Judge. JACOBS, Judge.
Party Name:STATE of Connecticut v. ANONYMOUS (1971-18) [*].
Judge Panel:JACOBS,
Court:Circuit Court of Connecticut

Page 158

280 A.2d 158 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1971)

6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 573

STATE of Connecticut

v.

ANONYMOUS (1971-18) [*].

Circuit Court of Connecticut.

1971

Page 159

[6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 574] JACOBS, Judge.

The only question on this motion to suppress the evidence (General Statutes § 54-33f) is whether a package mailed to Connecticut and found on inspection to contain marihuana was subject to opening and inspection without a search warrant.

The facts of the mailing are undisputed. Via air mail and special delivery, a package weighing one pound twelve ounces and addressed to the defendant arrived at the post office. The post office department, suspecting that the package contained narcotics, opened it, went through its contents, and discovered the presence therein of one pound of marihuana. The package was restored to its original state and transmitted for delivery to the addressee. A notice was placed in the defendant's post office box, requesting him to call for the package. He did so, and the package was turned over to him, but he was immediately divested of possession by waiting police officers who had been alerted to the delivery of the package to the addressee. Criminal proceedings were instituted against the defendant, charging him with possession of marihuana with intent to sell in violation of § 19-480(a) of the General Statutes.

The defendant filed a motion in the Circuit Court to suppress any possible evidential use of the package or of the examination made of it, on the ground of illegal search and seizure. His contention is that the opening and inspection of the package were [6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 575] unlawful because the package constituted first-class mail (see 39 U.S.C. § 4057 (1964)) and that, under existing statutes and regulations, the contents of such mail may not be opened and examined without a warrant. The state contends that its case is governed by § 135.7 of the postal regulations, which provides in part: '(T)o assure that their parcels will not be opened for postal inspection, (patrons) should, in addition to paying the first-class rate of postage, plainly mark their parcels 'First Class' or with similar endorsements.' 39 C.F.R. § 135.7. The package was not so marked or endorsed.

In a case of this kind, the court is faced with a conflict between the government's efforts to protect the nation without hindering the smooth flow of mail and the individual's interest in the...

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