McGuire v. Amrein, No. 5527

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
Writing for the CourtCHESNUT
Citation101 F. Supp. 414
Decision Date29 November 1951
Docket NumberNo. 5527,5592.
PartiesMcGUIRE et al. v. AMREIN et al. BRATBURD et al. v. DAWSON et al.

101 F. Supp. 414

McGUIRE et al.
v.
AMREIN et al.
BRATBURD et al.
v.
DAWSON et al.

Nos. 5527, 5592.

United States District Court D. Maryland, Civil Division.

November 29, 1951.


101 F. Supp. 415
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
101 F. Supp. 416
No. 5527

Eldridge Hood Young, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff McGuire.

Wilfred T. McQuaid, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Sody.

Schonfield & Schonfield, Eugene Schonfield, Wendell D. Allen, all of Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Hess.

Maurice T. Siegel, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Silerman.

Alan H. Murrell, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Manger.

William Greenfeld, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Morgan.

Ellis Levin, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff Major.

Hall Hammond, Atty. Gen., of Md., Kenneth C. Proctor, Asst. Atty. Gen., of Md., Anselm Sodaro, State's Atty., for Baltimore City, Wm. C. Rogers, Jr., Asst. State's Atty., for Baltimore City, of Baltimore, Md., for defendants.

No. 5592.

Paul D. Taggart, William R. Richards, Silver Springs, Md., for plaintiffs.

Hall Hammond, Atty. Gen., of Md., Kenneth C. Proctor, Asst. Atty. Gen., of Md., for defendants.

CHESNUT, District Judge.

In these two civil actions tried together the plaintiffs seek an injunction to prohibit the defendants from divulging the contents of telephone conversations learned by them by the tapping of telephone wires of the plaintiffs. The defendants are police officers of Baltimore City and of Montgomery County, Maryland, respectively. The complaints allege in substance that the police officers intercepted the telephone messages and have recordings thereof, and propose

101 F. Supp. 417
to use them as evidence in criminal prosecutions against the plaintiffs in the respective cases now pending in the Criminal Court of Baltimore and in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, respectively, where they have been indicted for violation of the gambling laws of Maryland and conspiracy to violate the same. The answers of the defendants in both cases admit the interception of telephone conversations and the possession of recordings thereof and intention to use them in the criminal cases; but the answers deny the jurisdiction of this federal court to grant the relief prayed for. Counsel for the defendants also contend that even if the jurisdiction exists the situation does not warrant the exercise of the authority to issue an injunction because no property rights are involved and because in practical effect the issuance of the injunction would constitute an interference with State Court criminal jurisdiction contrary to the provisions of 28 U.S.C.A. § 2283 which provides — "A court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments."

At the outset it is necessary to examine the jurisdictional question. It is well known that federal courts have only limited jurisdiction and have no authority to adjudicate cases other than those authorized by the federal Constitution, implemented, with respect to courts other than the Supreme Court of the United States, by an Act of Congress. This district court, therefore, does not have jurisdiction unless it can be found that it has been affirmatively granted by Congress and is expressed in some federal statute. The plaintiffs contend and the defendants deny that such an affirmative grant is to be found in the present Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1331 and 1343(3). Section 1331 provides — "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $3,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and arises under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States". The law of the United States relied on by the plaintiffs is the Federal Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., in which section 605 provides — "no person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any communication and divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such intercepted communication to any person". And section 501 of 47 U.S.C.A. provides the penalty for violation of section 605 to be a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 2 years or both. The statute does not expressly forbid the use of such intercepted messages as evidence in the federal courts but it has been determined by the Supreme Court of the United States that that is its legal effect. Nardone v. United States, 302 U.S. 379, 58 S.Ct. 275, 82 L.Ed. 314; Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338,1 60 S.Ct. 266, 84 L.Ed. 307. But the Maryland Court of Appeals has held in three recent cases that the federal statute does not have the effect of forbidding the use of such intercepted messages as evidence in criminal cases in Maryland courts. Hitzelberger v. State, 174 Md. 152, 197 A. 605; Rowan v. State, 175 Md. 547, 3 A.2d 753; Leon v. State, 180 Md. 279, 23 A.2d 706.

28 U.S.C.A. § 1331 confers jurisdiction in the class of cases commonly referred to as federal questions; and a case involves a federal question when the construction and effect of some applicable federal statute is involved, because in that case it may be said to arise "under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States". We are not here concerned with the Constitution or a treaty but only with the particular federal statute which prohibits the tapping of telephones and disclosing the contents of messages and which the Supreme Court has held applies not only to interstate telephones but also to intrastate

101 F. Supp. 418
telephones where the latter are used in connection with the former. Weiss v. United States, 308 U.S. 321, 60 S.Ct. 269, 84 L.Ed. 298. The violation of the statute does not present a constitutional question because in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 48 S.Ct. 564, 72 L.Ed. 944, the Supreme Court held that the tapping of telephone wires and the consequent overhearing of telephone messages and subsequent evidence thereof given in a criminal proceeding, did not constitute an unreasonable search and seizure or invasion of the defendant's privacy under the 4th Amendment to the Federal Constitution; and the receipt of such overheard messages was admissible in evidence under the principles of the common law. It was subsequent to that decision that Congress passed the Federal Communications Act of 1934

The jurisdiction given to federal trial courts by section 1331 in a case involving a federal question was first enacted by Congress in 1875, prior to which time such questions were tried originally in the State courts; but when such jurisdiction was first given to the federal courts it was on the condition that there should be an amount in controversy which at that time was $500 but subsequently has been increased first to $2,000 and now to $3,000. The requirement with regard to the amount in controversy is obviously of great importance because otherwise the jurisdiction of the federal courts would be almost as wide as the whole field of federal statutory law. It is therefore very clear that the jurisdiction of federal questions as given by section 1331 does not exist unless there is an ascertainable amount in controversy in excess of $3,000 exclusive of interest and costs. Un...

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12 practice notes
  • Blue v. Craig, No. 73-2183
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 18 octobre 1974
    ...the jurisdictional provision under 1343(3) was 'identical' with the reach of 1983 itself. See, however, McGuire v. Amrein (D.C.Md.1951), 101 F.Supp. 414, 420, which also would take the strict lexicographer's view of the term 'equal rights' in 1343(3) rather than recognizing that the phrase ......
  • Pugach v. Dollinger, No. 306
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 14 avril 1960
    ...equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States * * *" In McGuire v. Amrein, D.C.D.Md.1951, 101 F.Supp. 414, the court held that it did not have jurisdiction of a suit identical in nature to that here under § 1343 (3), since § 605 is not an "......
  • Morris v. Danna, No. 3-75-Civ. 420.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 1 avril 1976
    ...to be debatable. Nor can § 602(a)(9) standing alone be said to be an act "providing for equal rights." Cf. McGuire v. Amrein, 101 F.Supp. 414 (D.Md.1951) (wiretap provisions in Federal Communications Act of 1934 do not constitute an act "providing for equal rights"). The......
  • Maine v. Thiboutot, No. 79-838
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 25 juin 1980
    ...88 (ND Ill.1972) (right to an environmental impact statement prior to action in which federal agency participates); McGuire v. Amrein, 101 F.Supp. 414, 417, 419-420 (Md.1951) (federal ban on the taping of telephones). 13. See Wolf, Pendent Jurisdiction, Multi-Claim Litigation, and the 1976 ......
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12 cases
  • Maine v. Thiboutot, 79-838
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 25 juin 1980
    ...88 (ND Ill.1972) (right to an environmental impact statement prior to action in which federal agency participates); McGuire v. Amrein, 101 F.Supp. 414, 417, 419-420 (Md.1951) (federal ban on the taping of telephones). 13. See Wolf, Pendent Jurisdiction, Multi-Claim Litigation, and the 1976 ......
  • Blue v. Craig, 73-2183
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 18 octobre 1974
    ...the jurisdictional provision under 1343(3) was 'identical' with the reach of 1983 itself. See, however, McGuire v. Amrein (D.C.Md.1951), 101 F.Supp. 414, 420, which also would take the strict lexicographer's view of the term 'equal rights' in 1343(3) rather than recognizing that the phrase ......
  • Stefanelli v. Minard, 2
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 3 décembre 1951
    ...F.Supp. 65, which had enjoined prosecutions in part on the ground of discrimination in selection of grand jury panel; McGuire v. Amrein, 101 F.Supp. 414 (refusal to suppress wire tap evidence; alternate ground); Erickson v. Hogan, D.C., 94 F.Supp. 459 (suppression of evidence obtained throu......
  • Morris v. Danna, 3-75-Civ. 420.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 1 avril 1976
    ...be said to be debatable. Nor can § 602(a)(9) standing alone be said to be an act "providing for equal rights." Cf. McGuire v. Amrein, 101 F.Supp. 414 (D.Md.1951) (wiretap provisions in Federal Communications Act of 1934 do not constitute an act "providing for equal rights"). There is no jur......
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