Miller v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

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

CITATION: 357 US 301 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 28, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 23, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Miller v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 28, 1958 in Miller v. United States

Earl Warren:

-- William Miller, Petitioner, versus United States of America.

Mr. Harris.

De Long Harris:

Thank you, Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case presents an issue involving the breaking of a citizen's door, the nighttime hours without a warrant and without notification of the purpose of seeking entry.

The fact behind that question as they arose in this case, briefly are as follows.

Back in March of 1955, about 1:35 in the morning, Federal Bureau of Narcotics, agent Wilson arrested a known narcotic addict who had given him some information of the payoffs named Reed.

Reed was arrested on a warrant and charged a violation of the narcotic laws on January 20th, 1955.

Reed told Mr. Wilson that he got his narcotics from the petitioner and from Bessie Byrd and he went into a little detail.

He said that he usually met a man named Shepherd, about 3 o'clock in the morning and that he purchased 100-capsule lots of narcotics from Shepherd, paying therefore, $100.

And that usually, he would wait for Shepherd to return with the narcotics, but on other occasions, he had accompanied Shepherd in a taxicab up to the 1300 block of Columbia Road, where Shepherd would get out of the cab and go into 1337 Columbia Road, at a place where an apartment was occupied by the petitioner, Miller, and by a codefendant in the case below, Bessie Byrd.

Mr. Wilson took Reed down to police headquarters, but he didn't book him.

He didn't charge him.

He didn't incarcerate him, but rather took him to a street corner in the District of Columbia whereby, a prearrangement -- they met with several District of Columbia police officers, two Virginia State police officers and a number of Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents.

It was planned and agreed as between the group that this man, Reed, would cooperate with agent Lewis in obtaining a purchase of drugs from the brought Shepherd.

And in connection with that plan, Lewis was given $100 in marked money and it was also understood that Reed would go along with Lewis and that there would come a time when he would give Reed some of the money to show Shepherd and to tell him that his partner would supply additional funds.

Now, the police officers and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents occupied two cars and these cars were equipped with radio so that they could commincate as between the two cars.

So Reed and Lewis, the training agent Lewis left in a taxicab and proceeded to the home of Shepherd.

Shepherd got out of the cab -- Reed got out of the cab, went into the house, came back with Shepherd.

And it was later said that in the meanwhile, Reed had shown Shepherd $50 of the marked money as a sort of a bait or to show him that there was available cash.

Then Reed, Shepherd got back in the cab with Lewis and they proceeded to the home of Reed and it had also been agreed that Lewis was to make an attempt to put the money on the proposed defendant, Shepherd.

And that if he did that as a signal, Lewis and Reed was to enter the Vermont Avenue house, formerly the dwelling of Reed.

So, that happened.

Shepherd remained in the taxicab and of course he was followed by the two -- followed the police officers and agents.

And the taxicab went in a great circle of route, on route picking up a soldier and two other passengers and taking them to their destination and ultimately coming to the 1300 block of Columbia Road, NW.

The cab double parked and Shepherd got out of the cab and went into the basement of 1337 which is an apartment dwelling.

Mr. Wilson, the Narcotic agent, followed him to the door, looked into the hallway and saw that Shepherd has disappeared.

Agent Wilson then went across the street where he observed the light go on, not in the apartment, but in a furnace room that was also in the basement.

And incidentally, in this basement, there were three entrances, one leading to the street, one leading to the furnace room and one leading to apartment No. 1, which was occupied by the petitioner and by Bessie Byrd.

Now, Wilson then got back into his car, and the two followed -- the officers followed the taxicab now occupied by Shepherd for about three or four blocks and then in a rather dramatic passion, they forced the taxicab over, stopped it and the cab driver got out.

The dome light flashed on and Shepherd was observed to put a package under the front seat.