Hoffa v. United States

PETITIONER: James R. Hoffa
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee

DOCKET NO.: 32
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 385 US 293 (1966)
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1966
DECIDED: Dec 12, 1966
GRANTED: Jan 31, 1966

ADVOCATES:
Assistant General Vinson - for the respondent
Joseph A. Fanelli - for the petitioners
Nathan Lewin - for the respondent

Facts of the case

These are several consolidated cases involving similar circumstances. In the lead case, a district court in Tennessee tried and convicted James Hoffa, the president of a labor union, for attempting to bribe members of a jury in an earlier trial. A paid government informer provided substantial evidence in the bribery trial. The informer was another local union officer who met with Hoffa on several occasions during the first trial. At that time, the government had not hired the officer as an informant. Hoffa alleged that the evidence gathered from this informer violated his Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the conviction.

Question

Did use of the informant’s evidence invalidate the convictions?

Media for Hoffa v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 13, 1966 in Hoffa v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 32, James R.Hoffa, petitioner, versus United States.

Number 33, Thomas Ewing Parks, petitioner, versus United States and Number 34, Larry Campbell, petitioner, versus United States and Number 35, Ewing King, petitioner, versus United States.

Joseph A. Fanelli:

If I may have just a moment?

Earl Warren:

Yes you may Mr. Fanelli, take your time.

Mr. Fanelli.

Joseph A. Fanelli:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I appear in behalf of all the petitioners in the four individual appeals which are consolidated for argument today.

They are petitioners Hoffa, King, Campbell and Parks.

These four petitioners were convicted in one joint trial on charges of jury tampering.

To the affirmance of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of those convictions, this Court granted certiorari upon one question.

That question reads and I quote whether evidence obtained by the Government by means of deceptively placing a secret informer in the quarters and counsels of the defendant during one criminal trial so violates the defendant's Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights that suppression of such evidence is required in a subsequent trial of the same defendant on a different charge.

The phrases used in this question upon which the court granted certiorari made more intelligible by placing them in the context of the particular facts presented by these cases or by this case, really.

Earl Warren:

They were all tried together.

Joseph A. Fanelli:

The question refers to two criminal trials.

The first of these was the trial of petitioner Hoffa in Nashville on a criminal charge, a misdemeanor charge of violating the Labor Management Relations Act.

That trial started on October 22, 1962 and continued on into December of 1962.

That trial ended with a hung jury.

(Inaudible)

Joseph A. Fanelli:

Yes sir.

I was just about to say that the shorthand reference throughout this argument I shall refer to it as the Test Fleet case or the Test Fleet trial or the Test Fleet offense whichever.

Earl Warren:

This involved in the context.

Joseph A. Fanelli:

The second trial of the two trials referred to in the question upon which this Court granted certiorari is of course the trial in this proceeding.

That trial began and ended in 1964.

In that trial, the petitioners were convicted of tampering with the jury in the Test Fleet case which had occurred in Nashville in 1962 from October 22 then to December.

The question refers to a deceptively placed secret informer.

That reference is to one Edward Partin.

That is P-A-R-T-I-N.

It refers to evidence obtained by the Government.

This means in the context of this particular case incriminating statements, admission statements allegedly made by petitioners Hoffa and King during the course of the Test Fleet trial in 1962.

These as testified to by Partin in this proceeding secured the conviction of petitioners.