Lathers v. United States, No. 24226.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtRIVES, GOLDBERG and AINSWORTH, Circuit
Citation396 F.2d 524
PartiesDavid Matthew LATHERS, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 24226.
Decision Date23 May 1968

396 F.2d 524 (1968)

David Matthew LATHERS, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 24226.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit.

May 23, 1968.


396 F.2d 525
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
396 F.2d 526
William Liston, Winona, Miss., for appellant

Robert E. Hauberg, U. S. Atty., E. Donald Strange, Asst. U. S. Atty., Jackson, Miss., for appellee.

Before RIVES, GOLDBERG and AINSWORTH, Circuit Judges.

GOLDBERG, Circuit Judge:

We consider both the legality of an arrest without a warrant and the Miranda caveats, and, while finding no cause to impeach the arrest, we are convinced that Miranda precepts were traduced.

David Matthew Lathers, a resident of Arlington, Virginia, was arrested by state officers in Jackson, Mississippi, after attempting to sell a truck which was in his possession and which had been stolen from a used car lot in Washington, D. C. He was convicted in the federal district court under 18 U.S.C. § 2312, for transporting a stolen motor vehicle in interstate commerce. Lathers' substantive defense was as follows: that he had obtained a week's leave from work in Arlington to visit his sister in New Orleans; that while hitchhiking through Tennessee he was offered a ride in the truck previously mentioned; that while spending the night near Tupelo, Mississippi, he lost his belongings when the driver of the truck absconded with them; and that on the following day Lathers drove the truck into Jackson to sell it and recoup his losses.

The jury to the contrary notwithstanding, Lathers beats no retreat from his story of innocence. On appeal, however, he relies primarily on the two evidentiary roadblocks of (1) unlawful arrest and (2) unlawful custodial interrogation.

(1) Arrest By State Officers Without a Warrant

On the morning of July 25, 1966, Lathers approached Ben C. Daughtery, a used car dealer in Jackson, Mississippi, and attempted to sell him a 1965 maroon Chevrolet pick-up truck bearing a Virginia license. In 1965 the truck had a listed retail price of $1595, but Daughtery began the bargaining with a low $500 estimate. (Daughtery testified at trial that his true estimate of the truck's worth was $1100.) To Daughtery's surprise, Lathers accepted the estimate and offered the truck for sale without engaging in the customary trading dialogue. Because of Lathers' overeagerness and because he could not prove ownership of the truck, Daughtery sent him to another used car lot and then notified F.B.I. Agent Roy H. McDaniel. McDaniel relayed the information to the Jackson Police Department which issued a bulletin to stop the driver (described in the bulletin) of a 1965 maroon Chevrolet pick-up truck with a Virginia license.1 Two state police officers spotted Lathers, stopped him, and, after informing him of their suspicions, took him to police headquarters. On the day of his arrest Lathers was interrogated only by state officers. He was interrogated by F.B.I. Agent McDaniel the following day and was prosecuted only in federal court.

Without doubt, the two state police officers arrested Lathers without a warrant and without conclusive proof that

396 F.2d 527
a felony had been committed. The police did obtain a report from Washington, D. C., concerning the theft of the truck, but not until the following morning. Lathers contends that we must exclude all evidence obtained as a result of the arrest because the officers did not know that a felony had been committed. In the alternative he contends that the police did not even have probable cause for the arrest

(a) Mississippi Law

To support his first contention, Lathers encourages us to read with a literal eye Section 2470 of the Mississippi Code:

"2470. Arrests — when made without warrant. An officer or private person may arrest any person without warrant, for an indictable offense committed, or a breach of the peace threatened or attempted in his presence; or when a person has committed a felony, though not in his presence; or when a felony has been committed, and he has reasonable ground to suspect and believe the person proposed to be arrested to have committed it; or on a charge, made upon reasonable cause, of the commission of a felony by the party proposed to be arrested. And in all cases of arrests without warrant, the person making such arrest must inform the accused of the object and cause of the arrest, except when he is in the actual commission of the offense, or is arrested on pursuit." (Emphasis added.)

Because Lathers bases his first contentention entirely, and most strenuously, on Mississippi jurisprudence, we pause to dispose of this claim on his own battle-field. However, in section (b) infra we will move to the appropriate arena of decision.

Lathers construes Section 2470 as requiring absolute knowledge that a felony has been committed. Reasonable grounds, he asserts, are not enough. His interpretation, though having plausible acceptability, does not comply with the following interpretation reached by the Mississippi Supreme Court:

"An officer without a warrant may arrest a person when he has reasonable cause to believe that a felony has been committed, and reasonable cause to believe that such person committed it. These criteria existed here, under Mississippi, Louisiana and federal constitutional law. Miss.Code Ann. § 2470 (1956); La.Rev.Stats. § 15:60 (1950); Schmerber v. State of California, 384 U.S. 757, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966)." (Emphasis added.)

Bradshaw v. State, 1966, Miss., 192 So. 2d 387, 388, cert. den., 1967, 389 U.S. 941, 88 S.Ct. 299, 19 L.Ed.2d 293. See also Nash v. State, 1968, Miss., 207 So. 2d 104, 107 (at 1); Craft v. State, 1947, 202 Miss. 43, 30 So.2d 414, 415-416. Cf. Barnett v. United States, 5 Cir. 1967, 384 F.2d 848, 855 (at 4).2 The case of Corn v. State, 1964, 250 Miss. 157, 164 So.2d 177, is closely in point. The defendant Corn was arrested by policemen without a warrant because (1) he had sold a $35 record player for $5 and (2) one of the policemen had seen burglary tools in the defendant's car. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the arrest on these facts alone.

(b) Cause for Arrest Without a Warrant in "Silver Platter" Cases

An arrest by state officers with consequent prosecution for a federal offense involves the interaction of two sovereignties. The legal complexities which result from this interaction are illustrated by questions such as the following: Who vests whom with arresting authority?

396 F.2d 528
What conduct justifies the exercise of that authority? What are the rights, obligations, and duties of arresting officers as to the citizens under their jurisdiction? Lathers asks us to find answers to this concatenation of queries by reference to Mississippi law. His rather unique contention is that Mississippi law invokes the exclusionary rule even if less rigorous federal standards would not. Although we dismiss this contention on the merits, it requires a choice of law decision. We make that choice explicitly in the hope of avoiding misconstruction

Prior to 1961 evidence obtained through an exclusively state arrest could be admitted into a federal trial regardless of the legality or illegality of the arrest. We quote from Weeks v. United States, 1914, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652 (in which case the exclusion rule was first established to impede illegal action of federal arresting officers):

"As to the papers and property seized by the local policemen, it does not appear that they acted under any claim of Federal authority such as would make the amendment applicable to such unauthorized seizures. The record shows that what they did by way of arrest and search and seizure was done before the finding of the indictment in the Federal court; under what supposed right or authority does not appear. What remedies the defendant may have against them we need not inquire, as the 4th Amendment is not directed to individual misconduct of such officials. Its limitations reach the Federal government and its agencies. Boyd v. Case, 116 U.S. 616, 29 L.Ed. 746, 6 Sup.Ct.Rep. 524, and see Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 53 L.Ed. 97, 29 Sup.Ct.Rep. 14." 232 U.S. at 398, 34 S.Ct. at 346.

This immunity from exclusion gained the label "silver platter" doctrine following Justice Frankfurter's opinion in Lustig v. United States, 1949, 338 U.S. 74, 69 S.Ct. 1372, 93 L.Ed. 1819:

"The crux of that doctrine is that a search is a search by a Federal official if he had a hand in it; it is not a search by a federal official if evidence secured by state authorities is turned over to the federal authorities on a silver platter." 338 U.S. at 78-79, 69 S.Ct. at 1374.

In Elkins v. United States, 1960, 364 U.S. 206, 80 S.Ct. 1437, 4 L.Ed.2d 1669, the Supreme Court overturned the "silver platter" doctrine and held that evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional arrest by state officers must be excluded from federal trials, regardless of whether federal agents participated in the arrest. The Court's extensive and perceptive analysis concluded with the following pronouncement:

"For these reasons we hold that evidence obtained by state officers during a search which, if conducted by federal officers, would have violated the defendant\'s immunity from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment is inadmissible over the defendant\'s timely objection in a federal criminal trial." 364 U.S. at 223-224, 80 S.Ct. at 1447 (Emphasis added.)

The Court continued:

"In determining whether there has been an unreasonable search and seizure by state officers, a federal court must make an independent inquiry, whether or not there has been such an inquiry by a state court, and irrespective of how any such inquiry may have turned out. The test is one of federal law, neither enlarged by what one state court may have countenanced, nor diminished by what another may have colorably suppressed." 364 U.S. at 224, 80 S.Ct. at 1447. (Emphasis added.)

Clearly, the Elkin...

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  • Poyner v. Com., Nos. 841434
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • April 26, 1985
    ...of counsel, defendant relies upon United States ex rel. Williams v. Twomey, 467 F.2d 1248 (7th Cir.1972), and Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir.1968). Those cases appear to stand for the proposition for which they are cited by Poyner. However, in our opinion, they are at odds ......
  • United States v. Barnes, No. (S) 77 Cr. 190 (HFW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 7, 1977
    ...an arrest the police need not conduct a trial, Morrison v. United States, 491 F.2d 344, 346 (8th Cir. 1974); Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524, 532 (5th Cir. 1968), or assemble evidence sufficient to establish guilt. Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 102, 80 S.Ct. 443 F. Supp. 144 1......
  • State v. Maluia, No. 5608
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • September 11, 1975
    ...11 are wide of the mark here. Defendant cites Fendley v United States, 384 F.2d 923 (5th Cir. 1967), and Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir. 1968). In Fendley defendant was told the court would appoint an attorney for him 'when he went to court'; that is not the situation here.......
  • Schade v. State, No. 1620
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • July 27, 1973
    ...or both: United States v. Garcia, 431 F.2d 134 (9th Cir. 1970); Smith v. Rhay, 419 F.2d 160 (9th Cir. 1969); Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir. 1968); Groshart v. United States, 392 F.2d 172 (9th Cir. 1968); Windsor v. United States, 389 F.2d 530 (5th Cir. 1968); United States......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
74 cases
  • Poyner v. Com., Nos. 841434
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • April 26, 1985
    ...of counsel, defendant relies upon United States ex rel. Williams v. Twomey, 467 F.2d 1248 (7th Cir.1972), and Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir.1968). Those cases appear to stand for the proposition for which they are cited by Poyner. However, in our opinion, they are at odds ......
  • United States v. Barnes, No. (S) 77 Cr. 190 (HFW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 7, 1977
    ...an arrest the police need not conduct a trial, Morrison v. United States, 491 F.2d 344, 346 (8th Cir. 1974); Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524, 532 (5th Cir. 1968), or assemble evidence sufficient to establish guilt. Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 102, 80 S.Ct. 443 F. Supp. 144 1......
  • State v. Maluia, No. 5608
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • September 11, 1975
    ...11 are wide of the mark here. Defendant cites Fendley v United States, 384 F.2d 923 (5th Cir. 1967), and Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir. 1968). In Fendley defendant was told the court would appoint an attorney for him 'when he went to court'; that is not the situation here.......
  • Schade v. State, No. 1620
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • July 27, 1973
    ...or both: United States v. Garcia, 431 F.2d 134 (9th Cir. 1970); Smith v. Rhay, 419 F.2d 160 (9th Cir. 1969); Lathers v. United States, 396 F.2d 524 (5th Cir. 1968); Groshart v. United States, 392 F.2d 172 (9th Cir. 1968); Windsor v. United States, 389 F.2d 530 (5th Cir. 1968); United States......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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