446 U.S. 620 (1980), 79-305, United States v. Havens

Docket Nº:No. 79-305
Citation:446 U.S. 620, 100 S.Ct. 1912, 64 L.Ed.2d 559
Party Name:United States v. Havens
Case Date:May 27, 1980
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 620

446 U.S. 620 (1980)

100 S.Ct. 1912, 64 L.Ed.2d 559

United States

v.

Havens

No. 79-305

United States Supreme Court

May 27, 1980

Argued March 19, 1980

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF

APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

After respondent and another man (McLeroth) arrived at the Miami Airport on a flight from Peru, a customs officer searched McLeroth and found cocaine sewed into makeshift pockets in a T-shirt he was wearing. When McLeroth implicated respondent, respondent was arrested and his luggage was searched without a warrant. A T-shirt from which pieces had been cut that matched the pieces sewn to McLeroth's T-shirt was found in the luggage and seized. The seized T-shirt was suppressed prior to respondent's trial on federal drug charges. At the trial, McLeroth, who had pleaded guilty, testified against respondent, asserting that respondent had supplied him with the altered T-shirt and had sewed the makeshift pockets shut. Respondent, taking the stand in his own defense, acknowledged, in his direct testimony, McLeroth's prior testimony that the cocaine was "taped or draped around his body," but denied that he had "ever engage[d] in that kind of activity" with McLeroth. On cross-examination, the Government called attention to these answers and then asked whether respondent had anything to do with sewing the makeshift pockets on McLeroth's T-shirt. Respondent denied that he had. And when the Government asked him whether he had a T-shirt with pieces missing in his luggage and whether the seized T-shirt was in his luggage, respondent replied to both questions: "Not to my knowledge." After rebuttal testimony for the Government, the seized T-shirt was admitted into evidence over objection, the jury being instructed that the rebuttal evidence was to be considered only for impeaching respondent's credibility. Respondent's conviction was reversed by the Court of Appeals, which held that illegally seized evidence may be used for impeachment only if the evidence contradicts a particular statement made by a defendant in the course of his direct examination.

Held: A defendant's statements made in response to proper cross-examination reasonably suggested by the defendant's direct examination are subject to otherwise proper impeachment by the Government, albeit by evidence that has been illegally obtained and is inadmissible as substantive evidence of guilt. Cf. Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222; Oregon v. Hass, 420 U.S. 714. Here, respondent's testimony on direct examination could easily be understood as a denial of any connection with

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McLeroth's T-shirt and as a contradiction of McLeroth's testimony, and the Government on cross-examination reasonably called attention to respondent's answers on direct and then asked whether he had anything to do with sewing the pockets on McLeroth's T-shirt. This was cross-examination growing out of respondent's direct testimony, and the ensuing impeachment did not violate his constitutional rights. Pp. 624-628.

592 F.2d 848, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, and in Part I of which STEWART and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 629.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petition for certiorari filed by the United States in this criminal case presented a single question: whether evidence suppressed as the fruit of an unlawful search and seizure may nevertheless be used to impeach a defendant's false trial testimony, given in response to proper cross-examination, where the evidence does not squarely contradict the defendant's testimony on direct examination. We issued the writ, 444 U.S. 962 (1979).

I

Respondent was convicted of importing, conspiring to import, and intentionally possessing a controlled substance, cocaine. According to the evidence at his trial, Havens and John McLeroth, both attorneys from Ft. Wayne, Ind., boarded a flight from Lima, Peru, to Miami, Fla. In Miami, a customs officer searched McLeroth and found cocaine sewed into makeshift pockets in a T-shirt he was wearing under his outer

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clothing. McLeroth implicated respondent, who had previously cleared customs and who was then arrested. His luggage was seized and searched without a warrant. The officers found no drugs, but seized a T-shirt from which pieces had been cut that matched the pieces that had been sewn to McLeroth's T-shirt. The T-shirt and other evidence seized in the course of the search were suppressed on motion prior to trial.

Both men were charged in a three-count indictment, but McLeroth pleaded guilty to one count and testified against Havens. Among other things, he asserted that Havens had supplied him with the altered T-shirt and had sewed the makeshift pockets shut. Havens took the stand in his own defense and denied involvement in smuggling cocaine. His direct testimony included the following:

Q. And you heard Mr. McLeroth testify earlier as to something to the effect that this material was taped or draped around his body and so on, you heard that testimony?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you ever engage in that kind of activity with Mr. McLeroth and Augusto or Mr. McLeroth and anyone else on that fourth visit to Lima, Peru?

A. I did not.

App. 34. On cross-examination, Havens testified as follows:

Q. Now, on direct examination, sir, you testified that, on the fourth trip, you had absolutely nothing to do with the wrapping of any bandages or tee shirts or anything involving Mr. McLeroth; is that correct?

A. I don't -- I said I had nothing to do with any wrapping or bandages or anything, yes. I had nothing to do with anything with McLeroth in connection with this cocaine matter.

* * * *

Q. And your testimony is that you had nothing to

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do with the sewing of the cotton swatches to make pockets on that tee shirt?

A. Absolutely not.

Q. Sir, when you came through Customs, the Miami International Airport, on October 2, 1977, did you have in your suitcase Size 38-40 medium tee shirts?

Id. at 35. An objection to the latter question was overruled, and questioning continued:

Q. On that day, sir, did you have in your luggage a Size 38-40 medium man's tee shirt with swatches of clothing missing from the tail of that tee shirt?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Mr. Havens, I'm going to hand you what is Government's Exhibit 9 for identification and ask you if this tee shirt was in your luggage on October 2nd, 1975 [sic]?

A. Not to my knowledge. No.

Id. at 46. Respondent Havens also denied having told a Government agent that the T-shirts found in his luggage belonged to McLeroth.

On rebuttal, a Government agent testified that Exhibit 9 had been found in respondent's suitcase and that Havens claimed the T-shirts found in his bag, including Exhibit 9, belonged to McLeroth. Over objection, the T-shirt was then admitted into evidence, the jury being instructed that the rebuttal evidence should be considered only for impeaching Havens' credibility.

The Court of Appeals reversed, relying on Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20 (1925), and Walder v. United States, 347 U.S. 62 (1954). [100 S.Ct. 1915] The court held that illegally seized evidence may be used for impeachment only if the evidence contradicts a particular statement made by a defendant in the course of his direct examination. 592 F.2d 848 (CA5 1979). We reverse.

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II

In Agnello v. United States, supra, a defendant charged with conspiracy to sell a package. of cocaine testified on direct examination that he had possessed the packages involved, but did not know what was in them. On cross-examination, he denied ever having seen narcotics and ever having seen a can of cocaine which was exhibited to him and which had been illegally seized from his apartment. The can of cocaine was permitted into evidence on rebuttal. Agnello was convicted, and his conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. This Court reversed, holding that the Fourth Amendment required exclusion of the evidence. The Court pointed out that, "[i]n his direct examination, Agnello was not asked and did not testify concerning the can of cocaine," and

did nothing to waive his constitutional protection or to justify cross-examination in respect of the evidence claimed to have been obtained by the search.

269 U.S. at 35. The Court also said, quoting from Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385, 392 (1920), that the exclusionary rule not only commands that illegally seized evidence "shall not be used before the Court, but that it shall not be used at all." 269 U.S. at 35.

The latter statement has been rejected in our later cases, however, and Agnello otherwise limited. In Walder v. United States, supra, the use of evidence obtained in an illegal search and inadmissible in the Government's case in chief was admitted to impeach the direct testimony of the defendant. This Court approved, saying that it would pervert the rule of Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914) to hold otherwise. Similarly, in Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222 (1971), and Oregon v. Hass, 420 U.S. 714 (1975), statements taken in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and unusable by the prosecution as part of its own case, were held admissible to impeach statements made by the defendant in the course of his direct testimony. Harris

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also made clear that the permitted impeachment by otherwise inadmissible evidence is not limited to collateral matters. 401 U.S. at 225.

These cases were understood by the Court of Appeals to hold that tainted evidence,...

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