Roberts v. United States

PETITIONER: Roberts
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Police Car

DOCKET NO.: 78-1793
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 445 US 552 (1980)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1980 / Jan 15, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 15, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Allan M. Palmer - for petitioner
Stephen M. Shapiro - for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Roberts v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 15, 1980 in Roberts v. United States
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1980 in Roberts v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 15, 1980 in Roberts v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Roberts against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This is a criminal case.

It comes to us on certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The question is whether the defendant's failure to cooperate with law enforcement authorities was a proper factor for consideration in determining his sentence.

The Court of Appeals held that it was.

The petitioner confessed involvement in a heroin conspiracy, but he refused to identify the others who had participated in the crime.

The District Court imposed a heavy sentence.

It explained that petitioner was a dealer that he was given the opportunity but failed to cooperate with the Government.

Petitioner's unwillingness to assist law enforcement suggested the possibility of an intention to return to dealing in narcotics.

It also suggested that petitioner would not respond affirmatively to rehabilitation.

Petitioner offered no explanation for his declining to cooperate nor did petitioner claim that his silence was an exercise of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

As he failed to invoke the privilege at a time when its legitimacy could be determined, he waived his right to claim it on appeal.

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion and Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.