Zap v. United States, No. 489

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation90 L.Ed. 1477,328 U.S. 624,66 S.Ct. 1277
Docket NumberNo. 489
PartiesZAP v. UNITED STATES

328 U.S. 624
66 S.Ct. 1277
90 L.Ed. 1477
ZAP

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 489.
Argued Feb. 5, 6, 1946.
Decided June 10, 1946.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 21, 1946.

See 67 S.Ct. 107.

Page 625

Mr. Morris Lavine, of Los Angeles, Cal., for petitioner.

Mr. Ralph F. Fuchs, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari from a judgment affirming the conviction of petitioner for violation of § 35(A) of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 80, 18 U.S.C.A. § 80.1 9 Cir., 151 F.2d 100.

Page 626

Petitioner entered into contracts with the Navy Department under which he was to do experimental work on airplane wings and to conduct test flights. He was to be paid on a cost plus fixed fee basis. He arranged with a pilot to make certain test flights and paid him about $2500. Prior to the test flights he had the pilot endorse a bln k check, telling him that it was to be used to defray the expenses for the test. He then filled in the test pilot's name as payee and $4000 as the amount of the check. The check was posted in petitioner's books of account as a payment to the test pilot. Later petitioner presented to the Navy Department a voucher for work under his contract. Supporting the claim was a document in which he certified that he had paid the test pilot $4000.

Congress has provided for the inspection and audit of books and records of contractors such as petitioner.2 The

Page 627

inspection and audit were authorized to be made 'by a governmental agency or officer designated by the President, or by the Chairman of the War Production Board.'3 Certain officials of the government, including the Secretary of the Navy, were authorized to exercise the power; and they were also delegated the power to 'authorize such officer or officers or civilian officials of their respective departments or agencies to make further delegations of such powers and authority within their respective departments and agencies.'4 And petitioner's contract with the Navy Department provided: 'The accounts and records of the contractor shall be open at all times to the Government and its representatives, and such statements and returns relative to costs shall be made as may be directed by the Government.'

For several weeks in 1942 agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an audit of petitioner's books and records at his place of business and during business hours. They acted under the auspices and by the authority of an accountant and a cost inspector of the Navy Department under whose jurisdiction petitioner's books and records had been placed for purposes of audit and inspection. During part of this period petitioner was absent. But while he was away, his employees granted the agents admission and cooperated with them by supplying records and furnishing information. When petitioner returned to the city, he made come protest against the examination. But the agents did not desist and continued to make the examination with the assistance of petitioner's employees. The $4,000 check was requested and it was given to one of the agents by petitioner's book-

Page 628

keepe. It appears that the check was retained by the agent5 and was introduced at the trial. The trial judge denied a motion to suppress the evidence. At the trial petitioner did not object to the admission of the check in evidence but later moved to have it stricken on the ground that it had been illegally obtained. The single question to which we limited the grant of the petition for a writ of certiorari is the propriety of the action of the District Court in allowing the check to be admitted.

As we have pointed out in Davis v. United States, 328 U.S. 582, 66 S.Ct. 1256, the law of searches and seizures as revealed in the decisions of this Court is the product of the interplay of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. But those rights may be waived. And when petitioner, in order to obtain the government's business, specifically agreed to permit inspection of his accounts and records, he voluntarily waived such claim to privacy which he otherwise might have had as respects business documents related to those contracts. Whatever may be the limits of that power of inspection, they were not transcended here. For the inspection was made during regular hours at the place of business. No force or threat of force was employed. Indeed, the inspection was made with the full cooperation of petitioner's staff. There is some suggestion that the search was unreasonable because made by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were not persons authorized to conduct those examinations. But they acted under the auspices and with the authority of representatives of the Navy Department who were authorized to inspect. The inspection was nevertheless an inspection by the Navy, though its officials were aided by agents of another department.6 Moreover, the right to inspect

Page 629

granted by the contracts was not limited to inspections by the Navy but extended to inspections by any authorized representatives of the government among whom the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are included.

The agents, therefore, were lawfully on the premises. They obtained by lawful means access to the documents. That much at least was granted by the contractual agreement for inspection. They were not trespassers. They did not obtain access by force, fraud, or trickery. Thus the knowledge they acquired concerning petitioner's conduct under the contract with the government was lawfully obtained. Neither the Fourth nor Fifth Amendment would preclude the agents from testifying at the trial concerning the facts about which they had lawfully obtained knowledge. See Paper v. United States, 4 Cir., 53 F.2d 184, 185; In re Sana Laboratories, Inc., 3 Cir., 115 F.2d 717, 718. Even though it be assumed in passing that the taking of the check was unlawful, that would not make inadmissible in evidence the knowledge which had been legally obtained. United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559, 563, 47 S.Ct. 746, 748, 71 L.Ed. 1202. The agents did not become trespassers ab initio when they took the check. See McGuire v. United States, 273 U.S. 95, 47 S.Ct. 259, 71 L.Ed. 556. Had the check been returned to petitioner on the motion to suppress, a warrant for it could have been immediately issued.7 Or during the inspection, the agents could have taken photostats or made copies of the check and offered them in evidence without producing the originals. Lisansky v. United States, 4 Cir., 31 F.2d 846, 850, 851, 67 A.L.R. 67. Darby v. United States, 5 Cir., 132 F.2d 928, 929. The agreement to allow an inspection carried consequences at least so great. The question therefore is a narrow one. It is whether the check itself could be introduced at the trial.

Page 630

Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652, L.R.A. 1915B, 834, Ann.Cas. 1915C, 1177, held that...

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272 practice notes
  • Morgan v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 4622.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • November 3, 1970
    ...what it considered a "strikingly similar situation" found in the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477 (1946), which held as "As we have pointed out in Davis v. United States, ante, 328 U.S. 582, 66 S.Ct. 125......
  • Irvine v. People of State of California, No. 12
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1954
    ...322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, 88 L.Ed. 1408; Davis v. United States, 328 U.S. 582, 66 S.Ct. 1256, 90 L.Ed. 1453; Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477; Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 67 S.Ct. 1098, 91 L.Ed. 1399; United States v. Wallace & Tiernan Co., ......
  • Com. v. Skea
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • October 26, 1984
    ...equivalent" (Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266, 93 S.Ct. 2535, 37 L.Ed.2d 596 [1973] ); consent (Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477 [1946] ); stop and frisk (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 [1968] ); seizure for questi......
  • People v. Brosnan
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • May 2, 1973
    ...782), street encounter searches (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889) and consensual searches (Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. Unfortunately, as this case proves, the 'well delineated exception' approach soon devolves into rule by rubric. Dis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
272 cases
  • Morgan v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 4622.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • November 3, 1970
    ...what it considered a "strikingly similar situation" found in the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477 (1946), which held as "As we have pointed out in Davis v. United States, ante, 328 U.S. 582, 66 S.Ct. 125......
  • Irvine v. People of State of California, No. 12
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1954
    ...322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, 88 L.Ed. 1408; Davis v. United States, 328 U.S. 582, 66 S.Ct. 1256, 90 L.Ed. 1453; Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477; Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 67 S.Ct. 1098, 91 L.Ed. 1399; United States v. Wallace & Tiernan Co., ......
  • Com. v. Skea
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • October 26, 1984
    ...equivalent" (Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266, 93 S.Ct. 2535, 37 L.Ed.2d 596 [1973] ); consent (Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. 1477 [1946] ); stop and frisk (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 [1968] ); seizure for questi......
  • People v. Brosnan
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • May 2, 1973
    ...782), street encounter searches (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889) and consensual searches (Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624, 66 S.Ct. 1277, 90 L.Ed. Unfortunately, as this case proves, the 'well delineated exception' approach soon devolves into rule by rubric. Dis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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