LOCATION: Federal Power Commission
DOCKET NO.: 74-1646
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court
CITATION: 427 US 463 (1976)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 29, 1976
A. Raymond Randolph, Jr. - for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Jon F. Oster -
Peter C. Andresen - pro se, by Jon F
Facts of the case
Media for Andresen v. MarylandAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1976 in Andresen v. Maryland
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 29, 1976 in Andresen v. Maryland
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Justice Blackmun has three opinions and judgments of the court to announce in the three cases, Mr. Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
The first one is 74-1646 Andresen versus Maryland, this case comes to us by certiorari to the Court of Special appeals of Maryland.
After investigation by State Attorney's fraud unit of real estate settlement activities in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, indicated that the petitioner while acting as a settlement attorney had defrauded the purchaser of certain real estate known as Lot 13T in Potomac Woods.
The search warrants were issued and these listed specified items pertaining to Lot 13T to be seized together with other fruits and instrumentalities and evidence of crime.
In the ensuing research of the petitioner's law office at the office of the corporation he owned and controlled solely a number of incriminating documents including some containing statements made by the petitioner were seized, and he was then charged with the crime of false pretenses based on a misrepresentation to the purchaser of Lot 13T.
The petitioner moved to suppress the seized documents and this motion was granted as to some but the court ruled with respect to other documents that their admission into evidence would not violate the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments.
At the trial which resulted in a conviction, a number of the seized items were admitted in evidence, after having then authenticated by prosecution witnesses.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the conviction and rejected petitioner's constitutional claims.
We hold that the search of offices for business records, their seizure, and their subsequent introduction into evidence under the circumstance of this case, did not offend the Fifth Amendment's proscription against compulsory self-incrimination.
Although the records seized contained statements that petitioner had committed to writing, he himself was never required to say anything and their was no compulsion to speak other than the inherent psychological pressure to respond at trial to unfavorable evidence.
We further hold that the searches and seizures were not unreasonable in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The warrants in our view were not general warrants we also hold that the seizure of documents pertaining to lot other than 13G but in the same subdivision and the subjected to the same liens, did not violate the petitioner's constitutional rights.
I am authorized to say that both Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall have filed separate dissenting opinions.