354 U.S. 394 (1957), 571, Carroll v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 571
Citation:354 U.S. 394, 77 S.Ct. 1332, 1 L.Ed.2d 1442
Party Name:Carroll v. United States
Case Date:June 24, 1957
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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354 U.S. 394 (1957)

77 S.Ct. 1332, 1 L.Ed.2d 1442

Carroll

v.

United States

No. 571

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 1957

Argued April 4, 1957

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioners were arrested on warrants and subsequently were indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for violations of local lottery laws and for conspiracy to violate them. After indictment, each filed a pretrial motion under Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for suppression of evidence seized from his person at the time of his arrest. The District Court granted the motions on the ground that probable cause had been lacking for issuance of the arrest warrants. Urging that, without the evidence that had been seized and suppressed, it would have to dismiss the indictment for want of sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution, the Government appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reversed the District Court.

Held: the appeal should have been dismissed; the Government had no right to appeal from such an order in such circumstances, either under the general statutes relating to the appellate jurisdiction of all federal courts of appeals or under the special statutes relating to the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Pp. 396-415.

1. The suppression order here involved is not sufficiently separable and collateral to the criminal case to be "final," and hence appealable under the general authority of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, giving the federal courts of appeals jurisdiction of appeals from "all final decisions" of the district courts. Pp. 399-408.

(a) Appellate jurisdiction in a specific federal court over a given type of case is dependent on authority expressly conferred by statute. Pp. 399-400.

(b) In federal jurisprudence, at least, appeals by the Government in criminal cases are something unusual, exceptional and not favored. Pp. 400-403.

(c) The suppression order here involved, having been entered after indictment and in the district of trial, has an interlocutory character, and therefore cannot be appealed by the Government as a "final decision." Pp. 403-405.

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(d) The suppression order here involved does not have sufficient characteristics of independence and completeness to make it appealable as an order separable from, or collateral to, the criminal case. Pp. 403-408.

2. The suppression order here involved is not a "final" order within the criminal case, and thus appealable under the statutory provisions applicable in the District of Columbia in criminal cases. Pp. 408-415.

(a) Even today, criminal appeals by the Government in the District of Columbia are not limited to the categories set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3731, although, as to cases covered by that nationwide jurisdictional statute, its explicit directions will prevail over the terms of § 935 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901, now found in §23-105 of the District of Columbia Code (1951 ed.). Pp. 408-411.

(b) Under § 226 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901, the practice had developed of allowing appeals from interlocutory orders in criminal cases; but § 226 was replaced in 1949 by the nationwide appellate jurisdiction provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§1291 and 1292, which do not authorize interlocutory appeals in criminal cases. Pp. 411-413.

(c) The standard of "final decisions" as prerequisite to appeal is not something less or different under 18 U.S.C. § 1291 as the successor to § 226 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901 than it is under § 1291 as the successor to the nationally applicable appeal provisions of the Judicial Code. P. 413.

(d) The statutory provisions applicable to the District of Columbia, subject to the further limitations stated therein, afford the Government an appeal only from an order against it which terminates a prosecution or makes a decision whose distinct or plenary character meets the standards of the precedents applicable to finality problems in all federal courts. Pp. 413-415.

98 U.S.App.D.C. 244, 234 F.2d 679, reversed and remanded.

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WARREN, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioners were arrested in February, 1954 on John Doe warrants, and subsequently were indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, with two others, for violations of the local lottery laws and for conspiracy to carry on a lottery.1 After indictment, each filed a pretrial motion under Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure2 asking for the suppression of evidence seized from his person at the time of his arrest. The District Court granted petitioners' motions to suppress on the ground that probable cause had been lacking for the issuance of the arrest warrants directed against them.3 United States v. Hall, 126 F.Supp. 620. The Government

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appealed the order for suppression to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The indictment against petitioners had not been dismissed, but the Government informed the Court of Appeals that, without the "numbers" paraphernalia seized and suppressed, it would lack sufficient evidence to proceed on any of the counts involving petitioners, and therefore would have to dismiss the indictment. Petitioners challenged the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to hear an appeal by the Government from an order of the District Court granting a motion to suppress [77 S.Ct. 1335] that was made while an indictment was pending in the same District Court. The Court of Appeals sustained its jurisdiction on the authority of its prior decision in United States v. Cefaratti,4 and reversed the district judge on the merits, holding that there had been probable cause to justify the issuance of warrants for the arrest of petitioners. 98 U.S.App.D.C. 244, 234 F.2d 679. We granted certiorari, limited to the question of appealability of the suppression order, because of the importance of that question to the administration of the federal criminal laws. 352 U.S. 906.

The Government contends, most broadly, that the suppression order of any District Court is "final" and sufficiently separable and collateral to the criminal case to be appealable under the general authority of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, notwithstanding that such an order is not listed

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among the few types of orders in criminal cases from which the Government may appeal pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731.5 More narrowly, failing acceptance of the position

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just stated, the Government maintains that an order of suppression is, within the criminal case, a "final" order, and thus appealable under the statutory provisions for appeals by the Government in criminal cases that are applicable exclusively in the District of Columbia.6 It will be convenient to discuss the issues in the same order.

I

It is axiomatic, as a matter of history as well as doctrine, that the existence of appellate jurisdiction in a specific federal court over a given type of case is dependent upon authority expressly conferred by statute. And since the jurisdictional statutes prevailing at any given time are so much a product of the whole history of both growth and limitation of federal court jurisdiction since the First Judiciary Act, 1 Stat. 73, they have always been interpreted in the light of that history and of the axiom that clear statutory mandate must exist to found jurisdiction. It suffices to cite as authority for these principles some of the cases in which they have been applied to the general problem now before us, the availability of appellate review sought by the Government in criminal cases. E.g., United States v. More, 3 Cranch 159; United States v. Sanges, 144 U.S. 310; In re Heath, 144

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U.S. 92; Cross v. United States, 145 U.S. 571; United States v. Burroughs, 289 U.S. 159.7

There is a further principle, also supported by the history of federal appellate jurisdiction, that importantly pertains to the present problem. That is the concept that, in the federal jurisprudence, at least,8 appeals by the Government in criminal cases are something unusual, exceptional, not favored. The history shows resistance of the Court to the opening of an appellate route for the Government until it was plainly provided by the Congress, and after that a close restriction of its uses to those authorized by the statute. Indeed, it was 100 years before the defendant in a criminal case, even a capital case, was afforded appellate review as of right.9 And

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after review on behalf of convicted defendants [77 S.Ct. 1337] was made certain by the Acts of 1889 and 1891, the Court continued to withhold an equivalent remedy from the Government, despite the existence of colorable statutory authority for permitting the Government to appeal in those important cases where a prosecution was dismissed upon the trial court's opinion of the proper construction or the constitutional validity of a federal statute.10 When the Congress responded to the problem of such cases in the Criminal Appeals Act of 1907, now 18 U.S.C. § 3731,

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it did so with careful expression of the limited types of orders in criminal cases as to which the Government might thenceforth have review.11 It was as late as 1942 before the Criminal Appeals Act was amended to permit appeals by the Government from decisions, granting dismissal or arrest of judgment, other than those [77 S.Ct. 1338] grounded

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by the trial court upon the construction or invalidity of a statute.12

It is true that certain orders relating to a...

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