Breithaupt v. Abram

PETITIONER: Breithaupt
LOCATION: California State Capitol


CITATION: 352 US 432 (1957)
ARGUED: Dec 12, 1956 / Dec 13, 1956
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Breithaupt v. Abram

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1956 in Breithaupt v. Abram

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 13, 1956 in Breithaupt v. Abram

Earl Warren:

Number 69, Paul H. Breithaupt versus Morris Abram.

Mr Shermack, you may proceed.

F. Gordon Shermack:

May it please the Court.

Yesterday, I had commenced to explore the application of the position of this Court in Rochin against California to this particular situation.

And as I recall, had indicated that petitioner sees no particular reason for not applying the doctrine in the Rochin case simply because, here, there is no brutality for us.

There is no struggle to secure the vital blood in this case to be tested in order to supply the evidence in as much as petitioner was unconscious at the time.

That would appear to be the --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

What's involved in taking the blood sample, just to hand prick it?

F. Gordon Shermack:

Your Honor, a hypodermic in this case, and usually a -- any where from a few to -- in this particular case according to the testimony in this situation, 20 cc's approximately were extracted.

So it does involve a hypodermic.

The --

Hugo L. Black:

What do you mean by hypodermic?

F. Gordon Shermack:

Well, they --

Hugo L. Black:

Maybe in that respect that involve -- involving a hypodermic?

You mean taken out with a needle?

F. Gordon Shermack:

Yes, the -- the extraction from the vein with a needle.

Hugo L. Black:

Wouldn't make any difference whether its 1 cc or 20 according to your argument, would it?

F. Gordon Shermack:

No, it wouldn't Your Honor.

But some of the cases and some of the statements, the decisions indicate that as little as 1 or 2 cc's were taken.

In this particular situation, there was 20 but it certainly makes no difference how -- how little or how much.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

So, do you think the -- there is no distinction between the stomach pump to extract the foreign substance which was broken.

And that what's involved in taking, however, many cc's were involved?

F. Gordon Shermack:

I think not, Your Honor, when the purpose of extracting the man's blood is to determine whether a foreign substance, in this instance, the alcoholic content which they think is there and certainly the -- certainly, the fact that whether it was taken merely by a print -- thin prick or a -- through the use of a syringe.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Did they take his fingerprints in this instance?

F. Gordon Shermack:

They did not, as far as I know.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

If they had --

F. Gordon Shermack:

Nothing on the record --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Would you feel the same thing about the fingerprints?

F. Gordon Shermack:

I think the fingerprint cases can be distinguished from this situation for the simple reason that the fingerprints involve identification, almost invariable.

And here, we are faced with a situation where they are trying to actually prove the crime.