United States v. Cox

Decision Date23 November 1971
Docket NumberNo. 71-1043.,71-1043.
Citation449 F.2d 679
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Eddie David COX, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit

Craig A. Murdock, Denver, Colo., for appellant.

David H. Martin, Sp. Atty., Department of Justice, Washington, D. C., and James A. Pusateri, Asst. U. S. Atty., Kansas City, Kan. (Robert J. Roth, U. S. Atty., on the brief), for appellee.

Before PHILLIPS, HOLLOWAY and DOYLE, Circuit Judges.

WILLIAM E. DOYLE, Circuit Judge.

The defendant, Eddie David Cox, together with Maurice LaNear, Cleveland Dennis Ford and Michael DeWayne Piggie, was charged on May 28, 1970 (by indictment) with the offense of bank robbery of the Southgate State Bank of Prairie Village, Kansas, on May 8, 1970, contrary to 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). The indictment as to Cox also invokes the aiding and abetting or accessory statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2 inasmuch as the defendant before us, Eddie David Cox, was, according to the theory of the prosecution, driving the vehicle which was used in the robbery of the bank. The defendants, Cox and LaNear, were tried together and both were convicted. The other defendants entered pleas of guilty. The present appeal is on behalf of Cox alone. Previously LaNear had been tried separately and this trial had resulted in a hung jury. At the second trial the government, in order to join LaNear with Cox, agreed to waive the introduction of a confession LaNear had made.

Previously Elmo B. Hunter, United States District Judge for the Western District of Missouri, had entered an order authorizing agents of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to intercept wire communications to and from a telephone number listed in the name of Leonard E. Richardson at 7015 Monroe, Kansas City, Missouri. The application to Judge Hunter contained a supporting affidavit describing probable cause for authorizing wire investigation of violations of the Federal Narcotics Laws, 21 U.S.C. §§ 173, 174.1

The monitoring of these conversations started on May 1, 1970, and was continued from May 5 to and including May 8, 1970, during which latter period of time conversations were overheard and recorded by agents of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which conversations related to the robbery of the Southgate State Bank. Thus, the conversations intercepted pertained to bank robbery, whereas the authorization was given to gain evidence with respect to narcotics.

In accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 2517 (5), application was made to the Attorney General and to Chief Judge Arthur J. Stanley, Jr., United States District Judge for the District of Kansas, for the purpose of obtaining an order authorizing the use and disclosure of the seized conversations relating to the bank robbery. Judge Stanley signed the order and some of the conversations were received in evidence at the trial.2

We are not told exactly when the application to Judge Stanley was made, but presumably it was a timely one since no question is raised concerning time on this appeal. Indeed, we are at liberty to presume that all of the proceedings followed were in accordance with the statute since the defendant does not find fault with any of these occurrences. He does, however, contend that § 2517 (5) is unconstitutional on its face and that it violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is noteworthy that § 2518 imposes extensive requirements and demands on one making an application for an order authorizing or approving the interception of a wire or oral communication. Section 2518 is comprehensive and at the same time detailed in its authorization to the issuing judge to regulate interception of wire or oral communication.

The evidence on behalf of the prosecution at the trial disclosed that on May 8, 1970, the Southgate State Bank was robbed and that the robbery was carried out by three Negro males. The evidence also established that these men drove a 1961 Buick automobile to a parking lot, that of Black and Veatch Engineering Company which was located a few blocks from the bank. There, according to a police officer following the Buick, this automobile was abandoned. The occupants proceeded east from the car through some shrubs to another parking lot. An employee of Black and Veatch testified that he had seen a 1969 light tan or white Plymouth four-door sedan which had a large dent in the left front fender. This car was driven by a white individual and was parked in the lot of Black and Veatch. Another witness saw three Negro males running across the Black and Veatch parking lot to a parked car which appeared to be a 1969 white Plymouth. According to the witness, the three men stopped at the rear of this car and he overheard garbled conversations, including the words "Here," or "In here." This man retreated into his garage and his next observation was that the automobile was being driven out of the parking lot by a single male occupant.

An FBI agent observed that the defendant Cox owned a white 1969 Plymouth four-door sedan which had a noticeable dent between the left front headlight and wheel well of that car.

Several tape recordings of intercepted telephone conversations were introduced. One such conversation (Exhibit 31) between Michael Piggie and Maurice LaNear involved a discussion of plans for the proposed bank robbery. In this conversation LaNear inquired as to who would be driving and Piggie responded: "Ah, Eddie." LaNear responded "Eddie who?" Piggie replied "You know, the fella, the white fella." In another conversation LaNear informed Piggie that he did not "even trust that white dude and I don't even know him." (Exhibit 26). In a conversation which was recorded on the day of the robbery Michael Piggie asked Eugene Richardson, in whose name the tapped telephone was listed, to "call Eddie for me and tell that, tell him I said it was ready." Richardson proceeded to call Eddie Cox. In this very crucial conversation, crucial because it definitely established that Eddie was Eddie Cox, the defendant herein, since the telephone number called was shown to have been his, appears the following:

"O.K. but, uh, Mike just called and told me to tell you he\'s ready for you, give you call."
EDDIE: "Who? Mike?"
GENE: "Yeah."
EDDIE: "O.K., then, I\'ll stop by there tonight."
GENE: "O.K."

In a conversation recorded the evening of the day of the robbery, it developed that Eddie had furnished LaNear with Piggie's telephone number and on the evening following the robbery there was a conversation between Piggie and Cox in which the robbery was discussed as if Cox knew all about it.

Thus, recordings were introduced, which although somewhat vague, served to identify Cox with the robbery both before and after it occurred.

The defendant seeks reversal on several grounds. Primarily, he challenges the use in evidence of certain intercepted telephone conversations. His basis is that 18 U.S.C. § 2517(5) is unconstitutional in that it allows use of intercepted telephone communications where the wire tapping has not been previously authorized by a judge. He maintains that the post audit provision of this section by a judge does not satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

Secondary contentions or assignments include:

1. The alleged error of the trial court in refusing to grant a severance from his codefendant, Maurice LaNear, on the basis that statements in conversations between the codefendants which were incriminating as to Cox, but with respect to which he was not a participant, were received.

2. The lack of knowledge on the part of the agents monitoring the recordings which could have allowed them to identify the voices or to match the telephone numbers called.

3. The refusal of the court to omit portions of Exhibit 26 containing, so it is argued, incriminating hearsay statements inculpating the defendant Cox.

4. The statement of the U. S. Attorney suggesting that LaNear's confession implicated others, thus creating an impression that the confession which was not received in evidence implicated the defendant Cox.

5. The alleged insufficiency of the evidence to present a prima facie case as to the defendant Cox.


Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 19683 represents the first comprehensive federal legislation in the area of wiretapping and electronic surveillance. It supersedes section 605 of the Federal Communications Act of 1934.4 Its dual purpose is "(1) protecting the privacy of wire and oral communications, and (2) delineating on a uniform basis the circumstances and conditions under which the interception of wire and oral communications may be authorized."5

Prior to the enactment a Presidential Commission found that organized criminals use wire and oral communications and recommended that such communications were essential to effective detection and prosecution.6 The report of the President's Commission was an important impetus in the passage by the Congress of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, including the mentioned Title III which included provisions for law enforcement officers intercepting telephone communications after having obtained judicial authorization. Congress in passing the Act considered carefully the decisions of the Supreme Court in Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41, 87 S.Ct. 1873, 18 L.Ed.2d 1040 (1967); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967); and Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 323, 87 S.Ct. 429, 17 L.Ed.2d 394 (1966), and made an intensive effort to comply with the standards which had been enunciated in these cases.7 Notwithstanding the care taken, the Congress has incurred extensive criticisms of Title III of the Act by various commentators.8

Title III imposes an overall ban on the interception and disclosure of wire or oral communications, but it authorizes interception in connection with the investigation of...

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