United States v. Lydecker

Decision Date02 August 1921
Docket Number2510.
Citation275 F. 976
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of New York

Francis E. Kerwin, Assistant United States Attorney, of Buffalo, N.Y.

Frank C. Ferguson, and Andrew B. Gilfillan, both of Buffalo, N.Y for petitioner.

HAZEL District Judge.

On the petition of the defendant Lydecker the United States was required to show cause why the indictment against the defendants should not be quashed on the ground: First, that books and papers were illegally seized from the custody of the petitioner by Post Office Inspector Mulherin; and second, that an incriminating confession was extorted from him prior to his arrest. It is demanded that the illegally seized papers and documents, together with the confession should be returned to the petitioner, or the confession suppressed, and inspection of the grand jury minutes had by the defendants.

The affidavit of the petitioner tends to show that a confession or written admission of a conspiracy to defraud the United States, signed by him, was procured by intimidation, promises of leniency, force, and under duress, in violation of his constitutional rights, and that such confession and seizure of papers was and is the basis of the indictment.

It is claimed that the affidavits in opposition show that the petitioner confessed and admitted his participation in the fraud of the United States freely and voluntarily, without any threats or promises to induce the confession.

If the petitioner's version of the restraint and cross-questioning and promises is true, his constitutional rights unquestionably were flagrantly violated. There is no doubt that when a defendant freely and voluntarily confesses or admits his complicity in crime, with knowledge that he is not required to do so, his confession and admissions may be used as evidence against him. The paramount question always is whether a defendant freely and voluntarily confessed or admitted his crime or participation therein.

On the theory that the moving affidavits disclose a violation of petitioner's constitutional rights it is insisted that under the doctrine of Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. U.S., 251 U.S. 385, 40 Sup.Ct. 182, 64 L.Ed. 319, Weeks v. U.S., 232 U.S. 383, 34 Sup.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652, L.R.A. 1915B. 834, Ann. Cas. 1915C, 1177, Adams v. N.Y., 192 U.S. 585, 24 Sup.Ct. 372, 48 L.Ed. 575, Wiggins v. U.S. (C.C.A.) 272 F. 41, and Gouled v. U.S., 255 U.S. 298, 41 Sup.Ct. 261, 65 L.Ed. . . ., the confession must be returned to the petitioner or suppressed before trial. But the authorities cited do not so hold. In them the court dealt with the unlawful seizure of books and papers or other subjects of evidence illegally taken, but they do not, either expressly or by implication, require the return of a signed confession, even though made in violation of constitutional rights. Although it is true that seizing one's books and papers and extorting a confession of crime to be used on the trial are both violations of fundamental rights, yet these personal rights and guaranties are not controlled by the same evidential rule. The principle of return of documents and property illegally taken from the accused is based upon the assumption that their seizure was due to an unreasonable and unlawful search and seizure, made without due process of law, while a confession or the admission of crime is usually an oral narration or expression, not infrequently reduced to writing by the officer or person to whom the confession or admission is made, and retained by him for use at the trial. Such a confession may be impeached upon the trial; and, unless it is shown by the government to have been freely and voluntarily made without inducements, threats, or promises of any kind, it will not be received as evidence. The learned counsel for the defendant concedes that whether a confession was voluntarily made or not depends upon the particular facts of each case, and that the facts are usually involved in doubt until they have been ascertained. But this may only occur at the trial.

In Wilson v. U.S., 162 U.S. 623, 16 Sup.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090, it is ruled that the fact that an accused was in custody does not render his confession involuntary, nor is it necessary that he should have been warned that what he said would be used against him. It is sufficient if the confession was voluntarily made, though he was not warned or advised that he had the right to remain silent. Not to have had the aid of counsel, or that the confession was made to an officer while in custody, or drawn out by cross-questioning put to the accused, and that Pinkerton detectives and other police officers were called in to assist in the questioning or to be present, or that he was confined in the police station and...

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19 cases
  • United States v. Page
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • April 18, 1962
    ...United States v. Slusser, D.C.W.D.Ohio, 1921, 270 F. 818; United States v. Kelih, D.C.S.D.Ill., 1921, 272 F. 484; United States v. Lydecker, D.C.W.D.N.Y., 1921, 275 F. 976; United States v. Williams, D.C.Mont., 1924, 295 F. 219; In re Lobosco, D.C. E.D.Pa., 1926, 11 F.2d 892; United States ......
  • Providence Journal Co. v. FBI
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • May 15, 1978
    ...369 F.2d 166, 168 (9th Cir. 1966); United States v. Kraus, 270 F. 578, 580-81 (S.D.N.Y.1921) (Learned Hand, J.); United States v. Lydecker, 275 F. 976, 980 (W.D.N.Y.1921) (copies of papers returned); cf. Sullivan v. Murphy, 156 U.S.App.D.C. 28, 58-59, 63, 478 F.2d 938, 968-69, 973, cert. de......
  • State v. George
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • December 23, 1924
    ... ... Peterson, supra; ... Silverthorne Co. v. U.S. 64 L.Ed. 319; U. S. v ... Lydecker, 275 F. 976; the erroneous admission of ... evidence is reversible error, 17 C. J. 319, and cases ... land, so it would seem, owned by the government of the United ... States, but occupied as it was by defendant's sheep, no ... one else used this range ... ...
  • State v. Maes
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 7, 1923
    ... ...          In the ... latter case, 115 S.E. 745, the court very clearly states the ... power of the trial court in such proceedings in the following ... language: "Upon that ... National Deposit Co. v. Stead, 232 U.S. 58, 34 S.Ct ... 209, 58 L.Ed. 504; Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S ... 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652, L. R. A. 1915B, 834, Ann ... Cas. 1915C, ... Harley, supra; ... but waiver of right must be clear, United States v ... Lydecker (D. C.) 275 F. 976; or if search is made ... pursuant to a lawful search or arrest, State v ... ...
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