405 F.2d 838 (7th Cir. 1969), 16021, United States v. White

Docket Nº:16021, 16022.
Citation:405 F.2d 838
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James A. WHITE, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 07, 1969
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 838

405 F.2d 838 (7th Cir. 1969)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


James A. WHITE, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 16021, 16022.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

January 7, 1969

Certiorari Granted April 7, 1969.

See 89 S.Ct. 1305.

Page 839

Chauncey Eskridge, William R. Ming, Jr., Chicago, Ill., Morris A. Shenker, John L. Boeger, Murry L. Randall, St. Louis, Mo., for defendant-appellant.

Thomas A. Foran, Edward V. Hanrahan, U.S. Attys., John Peter Lulinski, Asst. U.S. Atty., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee; Gerald M. Werksman, Robert J. Krajcir, Asst. U.S. Attys., of counsel.

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Before CASTLE, Chief Judge, MAJOR, Senior Circuit Judge, and SCHNACKENBERG, 1 HASTINGS, KILEY, SWYGERT, FAIRCHILD, CUMMINGS, and KERNER, Circuit Judges.

SWYGERT, Circuit Judge.

The defendant, James A. White, was tried before a jury and convicted on seven counts of two consolidated indictments which charged him with certain narcotics violations arising under the provisions of 26 U.S.C. § 4705(a) and 21 U.S.C. § 174. The district court imposed a prison sentence of twenty-five years and fined the defendant $35,000.

A three-judge panel of this court, one judge dissenting, reversed the judgment of conviction. Subsequently, the Government's petition for a rehearing en banc was granted. Upon consideration of this cause by the entire court, we are of the opinion that our prior decision should be followed and that the district court's judgment of conviction must be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial.

The principal error relied upon by the defendant and the one which controls our disposition of this appeal was the admission into evidence of certain incriminating statements made by the defendant which were overheard by means of electronic eavesdropping by Government agents. This eavesdropping was accomplished by the placing of a radio kel set transmitter 2 on the person of a Government informer, Harvey Jackson, before he talked with White at various locations, including the defendant's home, automobile, and place of business, as well as the informer's home. At no time did the agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics secure a search warrant or court order authorizing such eavesdropping.

The Government's evidence tended to prove the following facts. On December 9, 1965, Harvey Jackson, the informer, who did not testify at trial, met defendant White in the kitchen of the informer's Chicago home. The informer had concealed on his person a kel set transmitter and had allowed a narcotics agent, Carl Jackson, to hide himself in a closet adjacent to the kitchen. While agent Jackson was so concealed, he overheard a conversation between informer Jackson and White and observed White transfer a package to the informer. This package, according to subsequent tests, contained heroin. From inside the closet where he could see White and the informer through the slightly open doors, agent Jackson overheard the informer inquire how many ounces there were in the package; the defendant responded, 'one good ounce.' After asserting that he would return the following day for payment, the defendant left the informer's home. Narcotics agent Robert DeFauw who was situated in an automobile outside the informer's home overheard the entire conversation on a radio which received transmissions from the informer's kel set.

On December 10, 1965 the informer called White from a public telephone and arranged an appointment for that day at the informer's home so that payment for a prior narcotics transfer could be made. Agent Jackson, with the informer's permission, overheard this conversation on the same telephone receiver used by the informer. Agent Jackson and the informer then went to the latter's home, where agent Jackson again concealed himself in the closet and observed the informer and White count $1,000 in official funds, previously given the informer by agent DeFauw. White put the money in his pocket, told the informer that he would get more 'stuff' on December

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14, and requested the informer to meet him at 6 p.m. the next day on a specified Chicago street corner for further payment. Again agent DeFauw overheard the entire conversation in his car outside the informer's home by receiving radio transmissions from the kel set which had been previously concealed on the informer's person.

On December 14, 1965 agent DeFauw placed a kel set on the informer's body, furnished him with $360, and followed him to the defendant's residence. A conversation between the defendant and the informer which took place inside the defendant's home was overheard on a radio receiver by agent DeFauw at his position outside White's home. During the course of this monitored conversation, money was counted and arrangements were made for the defendant to sell an additional two ounces of 'stuff' on December 16 for $1,250, with payment due within a week and a half after delivery. The defendant requested faster payment since his suppliers wanted their money sooner and arrangements were made to meet again at 6 p.m. on December 16.

On December 16, 1965 agent DeFauw placed a kel set under the informer's clothing and followed him to a Chicago intersection where the informer met White who entered the informer's car. While White and the informer drove around the city for two hours, agent DeFauw, following them in his car, overheard by radio receiver their conversation concerning the price and quality of heroin. Thereafter the informer left the car because White said he had to meet 'this man.' White drove the car a few blocks to another Chicago intersection where he picked up Sam Minerva, a supplier of narcotics. At this point agent William Kerstann who was trailing White, observed Minerva emerge from the car after riding a short distance. Kerstann followed White a couple of blocks to a street corner where the informer re-entered the car. By radio receiver, Kerstann overheard the defendant say that he had met a certain man and received a package which he would leave on the seat of the informer's car. Then White said he had to leave the informer in order to meet another man. After White's departure, agent Kerstann entered the car and seized the package containing heroin.

On December 28, 1965 the informer was given $1,250 and a kel set was placed under his clothes. While followed by agent DeFauw, agent Jackson and the informer drove to the latter's residence, where agent Jackson resumed his usual surveillance position in the kitchen closet. Jackson saw the defendant enter the kitchen, sit down at a table, and join the informer in counting the $1,250. When the informer requested more heroin, White advised him that more would be forthcoming the following day, but that payment would have to be made more quickly because the supplier 'wanted his money.' Agent Jackson overheard the conversation from the closet and agent DeFauw listened on a radio receiver from his position in a car outside the informer's residence.

On the following day, agents David Connolly and Arthur Lewis followed White from his residence to a tavern where he talked briefly to Harry D. Williams, another narcotics peddler, and then departed. After stopping at a clothing store, White drove to a Chicago intersection where he picked up Minerva who accompanied White for one-half block. Although Minerva was carrying a white shoe box when he entered White's car, he left with a black briefcase. White drove a block, picked up Williams, and returned to the tavern where they had talked earlier the same day. Meanwhile the informer, equipped with a kel set, had entered the same tavern. While Williams remained in the car, White went into the tavern and talked with the informer. They left and drove a few blocks in separate cars to a point where the defendant stopped, got out of his car, walked to the informer's car, and handed him a sack. Agent Vernon Meyer, who had been surveilling the informer's activities, heard over a radio in

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his car the defendant ask the informer to take Williams to the city's south side. Williams, also carrying a brown paper sack, entered the informer's car and drove with him to their appointed destination. After discharging Williams, the informer met agent DeFauw and gave him the paper sack which contained heroin.

On January 5, 1966 agent DeFauw placed a kel set on the informer and gave him $1,300. From the closet in the informer's kitchen where he was secreted, agent Jackson observed the defendant and the informer count the money. The defendant told the informer to bring the 'remaining $950' to the Dining Room Aluminer, a restaurant operated by White. White also requested that the informer purchase a large amount of heroin and pay in advance. The entire conversation was heard by agent DeFauw over the radio in his car.

Two days later, the informer was given $950 and had a kel set placed on his person by agent DeFauw. The agent followed the informer to White's Dining Room Aluminer which the informant entered. From his automobile, agent DeFauw heard over his radio the defendant tell the informer that the price of heroin was going up and that he should meet White at a Chicago intersection where a $2,500 heroin delivery would be made.

On January 8, 1966 agent DeFauw saw Minerva standing at a city bus stop. The defendant drove up, stopped, opened the door, and Minerva approached the car. White said, 'Come on, man, give me the package, I've got to get out of here.' Minerva handed a brown leather briefcase into the car and said that he would pick up the money later. Agent DeFauw placed the defendant White under arrest and seized the briefcase containing heroin.

The Government's evidence was based largely upon oral testimony by the narcotics agents that they overheard incriminating statements made by White to the secret informer, Harvey Jackson, and transmitted by the kel set device. As we have heretofore...

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