Mathis v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Jewelry Store/Post Office Contract Station # 7

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 391 US 1 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1968 / Apr 03, 1968
DECIDED: May 06, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Mathis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 02, 1968 in Mathis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 03, 1968 in Mathis v. United States

Earl Warren:

No. 726, Robert T. Mathis, Sr., petitioner versus United States.

Mr. Friedman, you may continue your argument.

Daniel M. Friedman:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

I’d like this morning in the brief remaining time to discuss two other aspects of the case.

The first is the question whether the use by the government of the forms extending the time for the statute of limitations, the use by the government of those forms as handwriting exemplars violated any of the petitioner’s constitutional rights.

I want to stress at the outset that these forms were not used to prove anything that was stated on the form.

It was just used by the handwriting expert to compare the signature on the form where the signature on the false tax returns upon which the conviction of filing a false claim was based.

Now last year, this Court in Gilbert against California held that the giving of a handwriting exemplar did not violate the privilege against self-incrimination.

It pointed out that the handwriting exemplar as such is not a testimonial act.

It’s not -- does not involve any communicative thing.

It is just an objective fact.

The same as the sample of the blood that had been taken from someone and I stress again that in this case, there was no use made of the signatures other than as compared for purposes of comparison between what was shown on the tax return and what was shown on this piece of paper.

So that under the ruling in Gilbert, there was no need for the agent to give any warning with respect to signing these documents.

The only thing he did was to tell them that there was no requirement that they sign that is that they give the consent.

So we think whatever may be the conclusion with regard to the admissions that he made to the agent, certainly this does not carryover or tainted in anyway the government’s use of the handwriting exemplars.

Now the final point I would like to make is in response to the petitioner’s contention that the failure to hold a separate hearing outside of the presence of the jury on the motion to suppress itself denied petitioner’s constitutional rights.

The -- I’d like to just refer briefly to a question that Mr. Justice Fortas put yesterday to my adversary with respect to whether the instructions would be forced.

The instructions are set forth in the record, the Court’s instructions to the jury and the Court’s instructions did not leave any questions to the jury to determine whether or not there was anything voluntary or involuntary about that.

The judge ruled on that and while the judge did not hold a separate hearing on this issue, all the evidence came in, and motions were made to strike the testimony of the revenue agent insofar as it related to the conversations and also to strike the testimony of the handwriting expert who testified that the handwriting on the returns was the same as the handwriting on these three consent forms and also on the check for the refund which had been given to Mr. Mathis.

Abe Fortas:

Mr. Freidman, I have two short questions.

Did I understand you yesterday to say that when the special agent as distinguished from the revenue agent goes to a taxpayer, that the special agent who works out of the Intelligence branch, I gather, always gives a Miranda warning?

Daniel M. Friedman:

Well, I have to qualify, not always gives a Miranda warning, always gives a warning, and the type of warning he gives there is on the circumstances.

He gives the full Miranda warning if he takes the man into the custody.

He gives a somewhat lesser warning if he is merely questioning him.

Abe Fortas:

Now my second question is whether when the revenue agent here, Mister -- what was his name, Lawless --

Daniel M. Friedman:


Abe Fortas:

-- referred this matter to the Intelligence branch.

He did that with a recommendation that a criminal investigation be begun or that criminal prosecution be instituted.

Daniel M. Friedman:

It would have to be the former, Mr. Justice.

He could not make a recommendation for a criminal prosecution.