347 U.S. 62 (1954), 121, Walder v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 121
Citation:347 U.S. 62, 74 S.Ct. 354, 98 L.Ed. 503
Party Name:Walder v. United States
Case Date:February 01, 1954
Court:United States Supreme Court

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347 U.S. 62 (1954)

74 S.Ct. 354, 98 L.Ed. 503



United States

No. 121

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 1, 1954

Argued November 30, 1953




Because heroin had been obtained from petitioner through unlawful search and seizure, its use in evidence was suppressed on petitioner's motion, and an indictment against him for its possession was dismissed on the Government's motion. In his subsequent trial for other illicit transactions in narcotics, petitioner testified on direct examination that he had never purchased, sold or possessed any narcotics. In order to impeach this testimony, the Government introduced the testimony of an officer who had participated in the unlawful search and seizure of the heroin involved in the earlier proceeding and the chemist who had analyzed it.

Held: Petitioner's assertion on direct examination that he had never possessed any narcotics opened the door, solely for the purpose of attacking petitioner's credibility, to evidence of the heroin unlawfully seized in connection with the earlier proceeding. Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, and Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20, distinguished. Pp. 62-66.

201 F.2d 715, affirmed.

FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

[74 S.Ct. 355] In May, 1950, petitioner was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri for purchasing and possessing one grain of heroin. Claiming that the heroin capsule had been obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, petitioner moved

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to suppress it. The motion was granted, and shortly thereafter, on the Government's motion, the case against petitioner was dismissed.

In January of 1952, petitioner was again indicted, this time for four other illicit transactions in narcotics. The Government's case consisted principally of the testimony of two drug addicts who claimed to have procured the illicit stuff from petitioner under the direction of federal agents. The only witness for the defense was the defendant himself, petitioner here. He denied any narcotics dealings with the two Government informers, and attributed the testimony against him to personal hostility.

Early on his direct examination, petitioner testified as follows:

Q. Now, first, Mr. Walder, before we go further in your testimony, I want to you [sic] tell the Court and jury whether, not referring to these informers in this case, but whether you have ever sold...

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