Preston v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: S.S. Hornfels

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 376 US 364 (1964)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1964
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Preston v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1964 in Preston v. United States

Earl Warren:

-- 163, John Brenton Preston, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Shea.

Francis M. Shea:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals of the Sixth Circuit.

The basic questions presented are whether it was error in the District Court to admit evidence which we assert was the fruit of an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment and secondly, although the defendant, petitioner here, enjoyed the assistance of counsel required by the Sixth Amendment.

The facts are briefly these.

Police, two police cruisers received a message from headquarters that three men in a Buick car were sitting on a street at New Port Kentucky and had been sitting there for some five hours.

One of the men had left the car and then came back to it and they were instructed to go and investigate.

They went to the scene and found there three men, I think one was standing beside the car and the other two in it, this was at 3 o'clock in the morning, in the business district, they were parked right in the neighborhood of a night club, the marquee of which was still lighted.

They ordered the men out of the car and frisked them for weapons.

They then interrogated them and discovered that none of them were employed.

One had been without employment for some six months.

One of the persons, Sykes said that he had bought the Buick car the day before, but he didn't have title papers with him.

They had $0.25 cents between them.

Their responses to questions the police said were evasive, but this is not particularized in the record.

They said they were there waiting for a person named Saxton, who is coming in on a trailer truck from a town some hundred miles away and who it was believed could help Strunk and petitioner to find employment.

They couldn't inform the officers as to the company that Saxton worked for and of the kind of truck he was driving.

In response to the question of how they would recognize him, Sykes said that he normally stopped for a cup of coffee about a block down from where they were parked and in response to the question of why they weren't parked down there; the police thought that they gave evasive answers.

On this basis they were arrested, they were taken to the police station in one of the cruisers.

The Buick car was driven to the police station and then towed to a nearby parking lot.

At the police station the police commenced their interrogation. Sykes asked permission to go to the car to get some cigarettes, he was denied permission, but the officers then went down to search the car.

There is no suggestion that this was at the request of Sykes or with his permission.

In searching the car they found in the glove compartment two loaded revolvers.

They attempted to open the trunk of the car but were unable to with the keys they had taken from Sykes.

They returned then to the station and one of the detectives, Chapiarni sent Doxson, one of the uniformed officers down to see if he could get into the car.

Doxson with the aid of the persons at the parking lot, pulled out the back seat, removed the partition between the back seat and the trunk and found there, two women's stockings, knotted at the top and one of them with eye holes in it.

Four caps, two of them split in the back, two lengths of rope, a piece of fishing line, a false Kentucky license with hooks that catch, that could be slipped over and hung on to another plate and two pair of gloves.

They then proceed with their interrogation and Sykes confessed that he and two others, but not Strunk or petitioner, had planned to rob the bank at Berry, Kentucky.

At this point they called in the FBI, because it was a federally insured bank.

They had lodged when they found the revolvers a further charge of carrying concealed and deadly weapons, but neither -- and when they came to the station initially they booked the three for vagrancy.