Lewis v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Smith County Jail

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 385 US 206 (1966)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1966
DECIDED: Dec 12, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Lewis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1966 in Lewis v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 36, Duke Lee Lewis, petitioner versus the United States.

Mr. Klarfeld.

S. Myron Klarfeld:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The question presented by the Lewis case is whether or not the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is violated when a government agent gains entrance to the home of citizen without a search warrant and by disguise and deception for the purpose of soliciting a crime and obtaining evidence to be used against him.

The facts briefly are as follows.

On December 3, 1964, a man by the name of Jimmy the Pollack telephoned to the home of the petitioner telling him that a mutual friend had said that the petitioner had some marijuana and that he, Jimmy, wanted to buy some.

The petitioner responded that the mutual friend had mentioned Jimmy and Jimmy thereby procured an invitation to the home of the petitioner for the purpose of obtaining some marijuana.

Jimmy the Pollack arrived at the petitioner's home, went into the apartment, sat down, they discussed the price, made his purchase and prior to leaving, Jimmy the Pollack stated that if he was satisfied as to the quality of the marijuana that he would probably give Mr. Lewis a telephone call in a few weeks and return to get some additional marijuana.

Several weeks later on December 17, 1964, Jimmy the Pollack again telephoned the home of the petitioner and stated that he wanted some additional marijuana.

Again, he went to the home of the petitioner where he received his marijuana.

Almost five months later, on April 26, 1965, Jimmy the Pollack again showed up at the petitioner's home, only this time, he came with a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Lewis.

Prior to the trial, the petitioner had filed a motion to suppress the evidence used to convict Mr. Lewis at the trial and that motion was seeking to suppress the evidence, admissions, and conversations which the petitioner alleged were procured in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Jimmy the Pollack in reality was Mr. Edward Cass, an undercover agent for the Narcotics Bureau of the Treasury Department.

He was -- he was called to the witness stand on the motion to suppress evidence and was asked the following questions and gave the following replies.

Question: At some time during your investigation prior to the arrest of Mr. Lewis, did the defendant Mr. Lewis become a suspect?

Answer: Yes, he did.

Question: Can you tell us when it time that was Mr. Cass?

Answer: Yes, sir, in 1963.

I bring this respectively to the attention of the Court and remind the Court that the two purchases which were made were made in December of 1964.

The defendant therefore was a suspect for over a year prior to a time when these two buys were made.

Question: On or about Thursday, December 3, 1964, did you communicate by telephone with the defendant prior to going to his home?

Answer: Yes sir, I did.

Question: Was the purpose of your telephone call on this date sir to inquire about a purchase of about a quantity of marijuana?

Answer: It was.

Question: On said dates, December 3, and December 17, 1964, Mr. Cass, did you pose as someone other than the federal officer that you are?

Question: Whether or not you represented your self to the defendant on those occasions, that you were Jimmy the Pollack operating a bar and grill in Rhode Island.

Answer: That is correct.

Question: When you went to the defendant's home on December 3 and December 17, Mr. Cass, did you have a search warrant for that purpose?

Answer: I did not.

Question: At the time you went to the defendant's home on December 3, 1964, did you suspect from information you had received prior thereto or based on your own personal knowledge or otherwise that the transaction might take place at the home of the defendant so far as the transfer of marijuana is concerned?