Giordenello v. United States

PETITIONER: Giordenello
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 357 US 480 (1958)
ARGUED: May 21, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Giordenello v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 21, 1958 (Part 2) in Giordenello v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 21, 1958 (Part 1) in Giordenello v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 549, Veto Giordenello, Petitioner, versus United States of America.

Mr. Walsh, you may proceed.

William F. Walsh:

May it please the Court.

The conviction in this case depends solely upon the admissibility of evidence ceased from the petitioner during an arrest by a federal agent executing a federal warrant of arrest.

There are three issues before the Court.

One, whether the warrant was properly issued and could support a valid arrest, two, whether the petitioner waived is right to object to the validity of the arrest when he waived a preliminary hearing before the United States Commissioner, and three, whether the Government may now rely upon state law to sustain this conviction.

I'm going to go into that in a little more detail later but I would like to say that under state law in Texas, this arrest would not have been lawful under the applicable state statutes where -- as an arrest without a warrant and the cases which we have filed in our reply brief so state.

The facts are these.

A federal narcotics agent named Finley had been investigating the petitioner.

Mr. Finley testified that he had heard that the petitioner was going to Chicago to obtain some heroin and that he had heard also that the petitioner was back in Houston with the heroin.

He said that he had been watching the petitioner since before Christmas of 1955 and that his surveillance corroborated his information to the extent that Giordenello did go to Chicago and did return to Houston.

Mr. Finley admitted at the -- the hearing on this matter that he had no personal knowledge that the petitioner committed any crime.

He said that he had not seen him with narcotics in his possession.

He said that he had never seen him with heroin and that during the entire time he had been following the accused, he had never seen him violate any of the laws of the United States.

Nevertheless, Mr. Finley saw fit to go before United States Commissioner in Houston and filed a complaint in the language of the statute, 21 U.S.C. 174.

It simply alleged that Veto Giordenello did receive, conceal et cetera narcotic drugs to with heroin hydrochloride with knowledge of unlawful importation.

No facts were stated in that complaint.

Mr. Finely did not reveal in that complaint why he thought that the petitioner had received, concealed, et cetera, heroin hydrochloride or anything else.

Obtaining a warrant on the strength of this complaint, Finley followed the petitioner for two days.

He obtained it on the 26th of January, 1956 and shadowed the petitioner until the following day the 27th.

When he saw him coming out of a garage with a paper bag in his hand, and he at that time executed the warrant of arrest.

He claimed that he did not obtain the warrant simply, they have an excuse for arresting the accused but he also claimed that there was no particular reason to execute the warrant at any particular moment or time after obtaining it.

Now, the petitioner was given an opportunity to have a preliminary hearing the following day, the 28th of January.

He had an attorney present with him at the U.S. Commissioner's Office and he waived preliminary hearing.

The attorney who represented him or who accompanied him at that hearing has not appeared again in this case.

He is out of the picture as of the moment that preliminary hearing was waived.

He did not represent Giordenello at the trial or on the appeals of this case.

Giordenello was later indicted not for the offense for which he was arrested, the violation of 21 U.S.C. 174 but for the revenue offense of purchasing narcotics without the appropriate tax-paid stamps.

Shortly after the indictment was returned, the petitioner moved to suppress the evidence ceased during the arrest.

The Government filed no answer to that motion.