435 F.2d 795 (5th Cir. 1970), 29469, United States v. Lipscomb

Docket Nº:29469.
Citation:435 F.2d 795
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert Edward LIPSCOMB, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:December 08, 1970
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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435 F.2d 795 (5th Cir. 1970)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Robert Edward LIPSCOMB, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 29469.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

December 8, 1970

Rehearing Denied Jan. 6, 1971.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Robert E. Varner, Montgomery, Ala. (Court Appointed) for defendant-appellant.

Ira DeMent, U.S. Atty., D. Broward Segrest, William H. Thomas, Asst. U.S. Attys., Montgomery, Ala., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before RIVES, WISDOM, and GODBOLD, Circuit Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge:

Robert Edward Lipscomb was convicted by a jury on a one-count indictment charging him with transporting in interstate commerce a stolen motor vehicle knowing it to have been stolen, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2312.1 He was sentenced to serve five years in the custody of the Attorney General. We affirm.

On January 25, 1969, Charles Moore, the manager of a Montgomery, Alabama, department store, reported to the Montgomery Police Department that a Negro male, accompanied by a Negro female, had purchased ladies' clothing by means of an American Express Credit card issued to one Raymond L. Krell. Moore explained that he had checked with American Express and discovered that the card had been reported stolen. He also told the police that the individual who had presented the card in his store was staying at the Midtown Holiday Inn in Montgomery.

Detective Ralph M. Hammonds of the Montgomery Police Department then called American Express and was told that the card had indeed been reported stolen. The company also gave him the telephone number of Raymond L. Krell in Detroit, Michigan. Hammonds placed a person-to-person telephone call to Krell, who explained that his billfold containing his credit cards had been stolen in a Detroit department store while he was trying on clothes.

Acting upon this information, Hammonds and Detective J. D. Wade went to

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the Midtown Holiday Inn. At that time they had not obtained either an arrest warrant or a search warrant. Arriving at the hotel, they were informed by the desk clerk that Raymond L. Krell was registered in room 511. The registration card also showed that the registered party was traveling in a 1969 Chrysler automobile, Michigan license number AC-8764, and that there were two persons occupying the room.

As the two policemen started toward the elevator, a Negro man and woman, Robert Edward Lipscomb and Charlene Leota Deering, also approached the elevator. Lipscomb and Deering entered the elevator first, and Lipscomb punched the button numbered five. When the elevator reached the fifth floor, both Lipscomb and Deering and the two policemen got off. The policemen identified themselves and asked Lipscomb his name. He replied, 'Raymond L. Krell,' and the policemen asked to see some identification. Lipscomb agreed to furnish identification, but insisted on first using the bathroom. The policemen accompanied him to his room, and after using the bathroom, he gave them several identification cards, all in the name of Raymond L. Krell. The policemen noticed that a selective service card listed the race of the registrant Krell as white. Thereupon, they placed Lipscomb under arrest for forgery. They also arrested his companion Charlene Deering for vagrancy.

On going downstairs, the policemen discovered that Charlene Deering was driving a Plymouth automobile with Georgia license plates. She denied any knowledge of the Chrysler listed on the hotel registration card; however, the policemen observed the Chrysler in the hotel parking lot.

The policemen then escorted Lipscomb and Deering to police headquarters. They also took with them the Plymouth automobile and the couple's personal belongings, which were taken at Deering's request. At police headquarters Detective Hammonds proceeded to inventory the personal belongings. During his inspection of a suitcase belonging to Lipscomb, Hammonds found a key which, he later discovered, fitted the door and ignition switch of the Chrysler at the Midtown Holiday Inn in the name of Raymond L. Krell.

On the following day Lipscomb, in the presence of Detectives Hammonds and Wade and an FBI special agent, confessed that he had stolen the Chrysler in Detroit and driven it to Atlanta, Georgia, and then to Montgomery.

On appeal Lipscomb presents some nine major contentions, the most serious of which concern the legality of his arrest without a warrant, the search of his personal belongings and the Chrysler automobile, and the admission into evidence of his confession.


Lipscomb first contends that his arrest without a warrant was illegal because the police officers had ample opportunity to secure a warrant before arresting him and no unusual circumstances existed to justify their failure to do so.

The validity of an arrest for a state offense by a state officer is determined by state law so long as that law does not violate federal constitutional standards. Ker v. California, 1963, 374 U.S. 23, 37, 83 S.Ct. 1623, 10 L.Ed.2d 726, 740. Under Alabama law a state officer may arrest any person without a warrant

when a felony has been committed, though not in his presence, by the person arrested, or when a felony has been committed, and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it * * * or on a charge made, upon reasonable cause that the person arrested has committed a felony.

Code of Alabama, 1940, Title 15, § 154. The facts amply demonstrate that the Montgomery policemen acted within the limits of the statute in arresting Lipscomb without a warrant. Conversations with three persons-- the Montgomery

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department store manager, American Express, and Raymond L. Krell-- convinced the policemen that a forgery 2 had been committed in connection with the use of a stolen credit card. They knew that the offender was a Negro male, that he was likely to be in the company of a Negro female, and that he was staying at the Midtown Holiday Inn. When Lipscomb, a Negro male matching that description, identified himself as Raymond L. Krell and presented Krell's stolen identification cards, the policemen had more than 'reasonable cause' to believe that Lipscomb had committed the forgery.

Neither was Lipscomb's arrest without a warrant unconstitutional under Fourth Amendment standards. An arrest without a warrant is constitutionally valid if at the moment the arrest...

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