Hampton v. United States

PETITIONER:Charles Hampton
RESPONDENT:United States

DOCKET NO.: 74-5822
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 425 US 484 (1976)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1975
DECIDED: Apr 27, 1976

David A. Lang – for petitioner, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
David A. Lang – by appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the petitioner pro hac vice
Keith A. Jones – Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioners

Facts of the case

Jules Hutton was a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informant that made the acquaintance of Charles Hampton. According to the government, Hampton told Hutton that he could acquire heroin and was willing to sell it. Hutton replied that he would find a buyer and orchestrate a sale. Hampton and Hutton arranged two appointments with DEA agents posing as buyers. At the second appointment, Hampton was arrested. According to Hampton, he was unaware that he was selling heroin. He claimed that Hutton provided him with the drugs and that Hutton had told him they were counterfeit. Since the government, through Hutton, had provided him with the drugs, he had been entrapped and was therefore not guilty. Hampton was convicted after a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, alleging entrapment and a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed his conviction.


Was Hampton’s conviction a result of entrapment and in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Media for Hampton v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 01, 1975 in Hampton v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 27, 1976 in Hampton v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

In 74-5822 Hampton versus the United States, there is not a court opinion, I have written an opinion in which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice White have joined, Mr. Justice Powell has written an opinion concurring in the judgment which Mr. Justice Blackmun has joined and the by virtue of the combined reasoning in those opinions the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Eight circuit in this case is affirmed.

In the case, petitioner was convicted of selling heroin to federal undercover agents in St. Louis.

The government’s evidence shows that petitioner had told Hutton that he needed money and knew where he could get some heroin.

Hutton who was an informant for the drug enforcement administration told petitioner that he could find a buyer, Hutton contacted the drug agents to setup a heroin sale and the second sale was arranged by the agents at the conclusion of which petitioner was arrested.

At trial petitioner claimed that the substance which he sold had been supplied by Hutton.

The petitioner requested a jury instruction to the effect that if the narcotics had been supplied by the informant, petitioner must be acquitted regardless of his predisposition to commit the crime.

The trial court refused this instruction and the court of appeals for the eight circuit affirmed relying on our opinion in United States against Russell, decided two years ago.

And we affirm the judgment of the court of appeals that Chief Justice Mr. Justice White had joined my opinion, Mr. Justice Powell has written a concurring opinion joined by Mr. Justice Blackmun, Mr. Justice Brennan who is joined by Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall has dissented, and Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.