447 U.S. 727 (1980), 78-1729, United States v. Payner

Docket Nº:No. 78-1729
Citation:447 U.S. 727, 100 S.Ct. 2439, 65 L.Ed.2d 468
Party Name:United States v. Payner
Case Date:June 23, 1980
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 727

447 U.S. 727 (1980)

100 S.Ct. 2439, 65 L.Ed.2d 468

United States



No. 78-1729

United States Supreme Court

June 23, 1980

Argued February 20, 1980




At respondent's nonjury trial for falsifying a federal income tax return by denying that he maintained a foreign bank account, respondent moved to suppress a loan guarantee agreement in which he [100 S.Ct. 2442] pledged the funds in the bank account as security. The District Court found respondent guilty on the basis of all the evidence, but then (1) found that the Government had discovered the guarantee agreement as the result of a flagrantly illegal search of a bank officer's briefcase, (2) suppressed all the Government's evidence except for respondent's tax return and related testimony, and (3) set aside the conviction for failure to demonstrate knowing falsification. The court held, inter alia, that, although the illegal search did not violate respondent's Fourth Amendment rights, the inherent supervisory power of the federal courts required it to exclude evidence tainted by the illegal search. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. Respondent lacks standing under the Fourth Amendment to suppress the documents illegally seized from the bank officer. A defendant's Fourth Amendment rights are violated only when the challenged conduct invaded his legitimate expectation of privacy, rather than that of a third party, and respondent possessed no privacy interest in the documents seized in this case. Cf. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128; United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435. Pp. 731-733.

2. The supervisory power of the federal courts does not authorize a court to suppress otherwise admissible evidence on the ground that it was seized unlawfully from a third party not before the court. Under the Fourth Amendment, the interest in deterring illegal searches does not justify the exclusion of tainted evidence at the instance of a party who was not the victim of the challenged practices. And the values assigned to the competing interests of deterring illegal searches and of furnishing the trier of fact with all relevant evidence do not change because a court has elected to analyze the question under the supervisory power, instead of the Fourth Amendment. Such power does not extend so far as to confer on the judiciary discretionary power to disregard

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the considered limitations of the law it is charged with enforcing.

Pp. 733-737.

590 F.2d 206, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 737. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 738.

POWELL, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question is whether the District Court properly suppressed the fruits of an unlawful search that did not invade the respondent's Fourth Amendment rights.


Respondent Jack Payner was indicted in September, 1976, on a charge of falsifying his 1972 federal income tax return in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.1 The indictment alleged that respondent denied maintaining a foreign bank account at a time when he knew that he had such an account at the Castle Bank and Trust Company of Nassau, Bahama Islands. The Government's case rested heavily on a loan guarantee agreement dated April 28, 1972, in which respondent pledged

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the funds in his Castle Bank account as security for a $100,000 loan.

Respondent waived his right to jury trial and moved to suppress the guarantee agreement. With the consent of the parties, the United States District Court for the Northern [100 S.Ct. 2440] District of Ohio took evidence on the motion at a hearing consolidated with the trial on the merits. The court found respondent guilty as charged on the basis of all the evidence. The court also found, however, that the Government discovered [100 S.Ct. 2443] the guarantee agreement by exploiting a flagrantly illegal search that occurred on January 15, 1973. The court therefore suppressed "all evidence introduced in the case by the Government with the exception of Jack Payner's 1972 tax return . . . and the related testimony." 434 F.Supp. 113, 136 (1977). As the tax return alone was insufficient to demonstrate knowing falsification, the District Court set aside respondent's conviction.2

The events leading up to the 1973 search are not in dispute. In 1965, the Internal Revenue Service launched an investigation into the financial activities of American citizens in the Bahamas. The project, known as "Operation Trade Winds," was headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. Suspicion focused on the Castle Bank in 1972, when investigators learned that a suspected narcotics trafficker had an account there. Special Agent Richard Jaffe of the Jacksonville office asked Norman Casper, a private investigator and occasional informant, to learn what he could about the Castle Bank and its depositors. To that end, Casper cultivated his friendship with Castle

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Bank vice-president Michael Wolstencroft. Casper introduced Wolstencroft to Sybol Kennedy, a private investigator and former employee. When Casper discovered that the banker intended to spend a few days in Miami in January, 1973, he devised a scheme to gain access to the bank records he knew Wolstencroft would be carrying in his briefcase. Agent Jaffe approved the basic outline of the plan.

Wolstencroft arrived in Miami on January 15 and went directly to Kennedy's apartment. At about 7:30 p.m., the two left for dinner at a Key Biscayne restaurant. Shortly thereafter, Casper entered the apartment using a key supplied by Kennedy. He removed the briefcase and delivered it to Jaffe. While the agent supervised the copying of approximately 400 documents taken from the briefcase, a "lookout" observed Kennedy and Wolstencroft at dinner. The observer notified Casper when the pair left the restaurant, and the briefcase was replaced. The documents photographed that evening included papers evidencing a close working relationship between the Castle Bank and the Bank of Perrine, Fla. Subpoenas issued to the Bank of Perrine ultimately uncovered the loan guarantee agreement at issue in this case.

The District Court found that the United States, acting through Jaffe, "knowingly and willfully participated in the unlawful seizure of Michael Wolstencroft's briefcase. . . ." Id. at 120. According to that court,

the Government affirmatively counsels its agents that the Fourth Amendment standing limitation permits them to purposefully conduct an unconstitutional search and seizure of one individual in order to obtain evidence against third parties. . . .

Id. at 132-133. The District Court also found that the documents seized from Wolstencroft provided the leads that ultimately led to the discovery of the critical loan guarantee agreement. Id. at 123.3 Although the search did not impinge upon the

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respondent's Fourth Amendment [100 S.Ct. 2444] rights, the District Court believed that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the inherent supervisory power of the federal courts required it to exclude evidence tainted by the Government's "knowing and purposeful bad faith hostility to any person's fundamental constitutional rights." Id. at 129; see id. at 133, 134-135.

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed in a brief order endorsing the District Court's use of its supervisory power. 590 F.2d 206 (1979) (per curiam). The Court of Appeals did not decide the due process question. We granted certiorari, 444 U.S. 822 (1979), and we nov reverse.


This Court discussed the doctrine of "standing to invoke the [Fourth Amendment] exclusionary rule" in some detail last Term. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 138 (1978). We reaffirmed the established rule that a court may not exclude evidence under the Fourth Amendment unless it finds that an unlawful search or seizure violated the defendant's own constitutional rights. Id. at 133-140. See, e.g., Brown v. United States, 411 U.S. 223, 229-230 (1973); Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 171-172 (1969); Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, 389 (1968). And the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights are violated only when the challenged conduct invaded his legitimate expectation of privacy, rather than that of a third party. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. at 143; id. at 149-152 (POWELL, J., concurring); Combs v. United States, 408 U.S. 224, 227 (1972); Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, 368 (1968).

The foregoing authorities establish, as the District Court recognized, that respondent lacks standing under the Fourth

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Amendment to suppress the documents illegally seized from Wolstencroft. 434 F.Supp. at 126. The Court of Appeals did not disturb the District Court's conclusion that "Jack Payner possessed no privacy interest in the Castle Bank documents that were seized from Wolstencroft." Ibid.; see 590 F.2d at 207. Nor do we. United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (197), established that a depositor has no expectation of privacy, and thus no "protectable Fourth Amendment interest" in copies of checks and deposit slips retained by his bank. Id. at 437; see id. at 442. Nothing in the record supports a contrary conclusion in this case.4

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The District Court and the Court of Appeals believed, however, that a federal court should use its supervisory power to suppress evidence tainted by gross illegalities that did not infringe the defendant's constitutional rights. The United States contends that this approach -- as applied in this case --...

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