Coppola v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Huntington National Bank

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 762 (1961)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1961
DECIDED: Apr 17, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Coppola v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1961 in Coppola v. United States

Earl Warren:

-- Coppola, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Mahoney.

William B. Mahoney:

Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court.

The writ in this particular matter covers two judgments, the petitioner, after separate trials, having been convicted of the federal statute relative to bank robberies and incidental crimes.

The question presented here arises from the fact that the petitioner, Coppola, made an oral and a written statement to federal officers while he was being illegally detained in the custody of the Buffalo Police Department in violation of Section 165 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the State of New York.

The question presented here is as to whether or not that oral and written admission were admissible under the principle of Anderson against the United States in which case the McNabb rule of exclusion was applied to a statement made to a federal officer while be -- being illegally detained by the sheriff of the State of Tennessee.

And a further question arises, namely, that irrespective of the collaboration and the working agreement that was mentioned in the Anderson case and was the basis for that particular decision, whether or not in the interest of fair play that the oral and the written statement were inadmissible because of the fact that they were held illegally.

That is, the petitioner was held illegally after an arrest on suspicion as well as being detained in violation of the code provision that I've just mentioned to the Court.

In this particular situation --

John M. Harlan II:

This -- this --

William B. Mahoney:

-- there were two indictments --

John M. Harlan II:

This is not a coerced confession case.

Well, I understand (Voice Overlap) --

William B. Mahoney:

It's not a coerced, no, Your Honor.

It's the illegal detention under the Anderson and the McNabb rule.

There were two indictments returned against the petitioner and others.

The first indictment charged that on February 15th of 1956, the petitioner and an individual by the name of D'Antuono, entered a branch bank of the Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company in the City of Buffalo, New York and that they escaped with something in or around $50,000.

The indictment charged the petitioner and D'Antuono when actually committing that particular crime.

The second indictment that was returned at the same time had to do with a different date, namely October 2nd, 1956.

It was a different bank, the Liberty Branch or a branch of the Liberty Bank of Buffalo and in that particular indictment, the petitioner was not accused of having perpetrated the robbery of the bank.

That part of the indictment was directed against the same D'Antuono as well as three other individuals; John Roche, Millio, and Simmons, but there were three additional counts in that indictment that accused the defendant of aiding and abetting in that particular matter.

As I said, there were two separate trials.

The defendant was found guilty in both of them, was sentenced to 20 years, the second sentence to run consecutively -- consecutively with the first.

Now, relative to the M. & T. and I'd like to approach that in as much as the earliest in time, on February 15th of 1956, the M. & T. Branch Bank was entered by two men, both of whom were masked.

Money was taken and there was an escape.

As early as February 27th of 1956, that's approximately 12 days after, the petitioner was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the City of Buffalo, New York.

And while he was merely held at their office, a telephone call was made to the officers of the bank instructing them that at the close of the business hours on that particular day that they should hold their employees in the same positions that they were in on February 15th when the holdup occurred.

And after that arrangement was made, the petitioner was taken to the locale of the M. & T. Bank.

And when the F. B. I. men got him out there in the east side of the city, they handed him a silk stocking and told him to pull it over his face.

And after he had done that, the door was opened, and of course this was after the banking hours of the day.