Jones v. United States

Citation362 U.S. 257,78 A.L.R.2d 233,4 L.Ed.2d 697,80 S.Ct. 725
Decision Date28 March 1960
Docket NumberNo. 69,69
PartiesCecil JONES, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Mr. Louis Henkin, Philadelphia, Pa., for petitioner.

Mr. James W. Knapp, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a prosecution for violation of federal narcotics laws. In the first count of a two-count indictment petitioner was charged with having 'purchased, sold, dispensed and distributed' narcotics in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 4704(a), 26 U.S.C.A. § 4704(a), that is, not in or from the 'original stamped package.' In the second count petitioner was charged under 21 U.S.C. § 174, 21 U.S.C.A. § 174, with having 'facilitated the concealment and sale of' the same narcotics, knowing them to have been imported illegally into the United States. Petitioner was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeals, one judge dissenting, affirmed the conviction. 104 U.S.App.D.C. 345, 262 F.2d 234. Since the case presented important questions in the administration of criminal justice, more particularly a defendant's standing to challenge the legality of a search in the circumstances of this case, as well as the legality of the particular search should standing be established, we granted certiorari. 359 U.S. 988, 79 S.Ct. 1125, 3 L.Ed.2d 978.

Both statutory provisions under which petitioner was prosecuted permit conviction upon proof of the defendant's possession of narcotics, and in the case of 26 U.S.C. § 4704(a), 26 U.S.C.A. § 4704(a), of the absence of the appropriate stamps. Possession was the basis of the Government's case against petitioner. The evidence against him may be briefly summarized. He was arrested in an apartment in the District of Columbia by federal narcotics officers, who were executing warrant to search for narcotics. Those officers found narcotics, without appropriate stamps, and narcotics paraphernalia in a bird's nest in an awning just outside a window in the apartment. Another officer, stationed outside the building, had a short time before seen petitioner put his hand on the awning. Upon the discovery of the narcotics and the paraphernalia petitioner had admitted to the officers that some of these were his and that he was living in the apartment.

Prior to trial petitioner duly moved to suppress the evidence obtained through the execution of the search warrant on the ground that the warrant had been issued without a showing of probable cause. The Government challenged petitioner's standing to make this motion because petitioner alleged neither ownership of the seized articles nor an interest in the apartment greater than that of an 'invitee or guest.' The District Court agreed to take evidence on the issue of petitioner's standing. Only petitioner gave evidence. On direct examination he testified that the apartment belonged to a friend, Evans, who had given him the use of it, and a key, with which petitioner had admitted himself on the day of the arrest. On cross-examination petitioner testified that he had a suit and shirt at the apartment, that his home was elsewhere, that he paid nothing for the use of the apartment, that Evans had let him use it 'as a friend,' that he had slept there 'maybe a night,' and that at the time of the search Evans had been away in Philadelphia for about five days.

Solely on the basis of petitioner's lack of standing to make it, the district judge denied petitioner's motion to suppress. When the case came on for trial before a different judge, the motion to suppress was renewed and was denied on the basis of the prior ruling. An unsuccessful objection was made when the seized items were offered in evidence at the trial.

In affirming petitioner's conviction the Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court that petitioner lacked standing, but proceeded to rule that even if it were to find that petitioner had standing, it would hold the evidence to have been lawfully received. A challenge to the search which petitioner had not made in the District Court, namely, that the method of executing the warrant had been illegal, was considered by the Court of Appeals and rejected, while the contention petitioner had made below, that there had been insufficient cause to issue the warrant, was rejected without discussion.

The issue of petitioner's standing is to be decided with reference to Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, 18 U.S.C.A. This is a statutory direction governing the suppression of evidence acquired in violation of the conditions validating a search. It is desirable to set forth the Rule.

'A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure may move the district court for the district in which the property was seized for the return of the property and to suppress for use as evidence anything so obtained on the ground that (1) the property was illegally seized without warrant, or (2) the warrant is insufficient on its face, or (3) property seized is not that described in the warrant, or (4) there was not probable cause for believing the existence of the grounds on which the warrant was issued, or (5) the warrant was illegally executed. The judge shall receive evidence on any issue of fact necessary to the decision of the motion. If the motion is granted the property shall be restored unless otherwise subject to lawful detention and it shall not be admissible in evidence at any hearing or trial. The motion to suppress evidence may also be made in the district where the trial is to be had. The motion shall be made before trial or hearing unless opportunity therefor did not exist or the defendant was not aware of the grounds for the motion, but the court in its discretion may entertain the motion at the trial or hearing.'

In order to qualify as a 'person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure' one must have been a victim of a search or seizure, one against whom the search was directed, as distinguished from one who claims prejudice only through the use of evidence gathered as a consequence of a search or seizure directed at someone else. Rule 41(e) applies the general principle that a party will not be heard to claim a constitutional protection unless he 'belongs to the class for whose sake the constitutional protection is given.' People of State of N.Y. ex rel. Hatch v. Reardon, 204 U.S. 152, 160, 27 S.Ct. 188, 190, 51 L.Ed. 415. The restrictions upon searches and seizures were obviously designed for protection against official invasion of privacy and the security of property. They are not exclusionary provisions against the admission of kinds of evidence deemed inherently unreliable or prejudicial. The exclusion in federal trials of evidence otherwise competent but gathered by federal officials in violation of the Fourth Amendment is a means for making effective the protection of privacy.

Ordinarily, then, it is entirely proper to require of one who seeks to challenge the legality of a search as the basis for suppressing relevant evidence that he allege, and if the allegation be disputed that he establish, that he himself was the victim of an invasion of privacy. But prosecutions like this one have presented a special problem. To establish 'standing,' Courts of Appeals have generally required that the movant claim either to have owned or possessed the seized property or to have had a substantial possessory interest in the premises searched. Since narcotics charges like those in the present indictment may be established through proof solely of possession of narcotics, a defendant seeking to comply with what has been the conventional standing requirement has been forced to allege facts the proof of which would tend, if indeed not be sufficient, to convict him. At the least, such a defendant has been placed in the criminally tendentious position of explaining his possession of the premises. He has been faced, not only with the chance that the allegations made on the motion to suppress may be used against him at the trial, although that they may is by no means an inevitable holding, but also with the encouragement that he perjure himself if he seeks to establish 'standing' while maintaining a defense to the charge of possession.

The dilemma that has thus been created for defendants in cases like this has been pointedly put by Judge Learned Hand:

'Men may wince at admitting that they were the owners, or in possession, of contraband property; may wish at one to secure the remedies of a possessor, and avoid the perils of the part; but equivocation will not serve. If they come as victims, they must take on that role, with enough detail to cast them without question. The petitioners at bar shrank from that predicament; but they were obliged to choose one horn of the dilemma.' Connolly v. Medalie, 2 Cir., 58 F.2d 629, 630.

Following this holding, several Courts of Appeals have pinioned a defendant within this dilemma. See, e.g., Scoggins v. United States, 92 U.S.App.D.C. 29, 30, 202 F.2d 211, 212; United States v. Eversole, 7 Cir., 209 F.2d 766, 768; Accardo v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 162, 163—164, 247 F.2d 568, 569—570; Grainger v. United States, 4 Cir., 158 F.2d 236. A District Court has held otherwise. United States v. Dean, D.C.Mass., 50 F.2d 905, 906. The Government urges us to follow the body of Court of Appeals' decisions and to rule that the lower courts, including the courts below, have been right in barring a defendant in a case like this from challenging a search because of his failure, when making his motion to suppress, to allege either that he owned or possessed the property seized or that he had a possessory interest in the premises searched greater than the interest of an 'invitee or guest.'

Judge Hand's dilemma is not inescapable. It presupposes requirements of 'standing' which we do not find compelling. Two separate lines of thought effectively sustain defe...

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