Rugendorf v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Georgia General Assembly

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

CITATION: 376 US 528 (1964)
ARGUED: Feb 27, 1964
DECIDED: Mar 30, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Rugendorf v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 27, 1964 in Rugendorf v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 223, Samuel Joseph Rugendorf, Petitioner, versus United States.

Julius Lucius Echeles:

Mr. --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Echeles.

Julius Lucius Echeles:

Mr. Chief Justice, Honorable Members of this Court.

Your Honors granted a writ of certiorari to review a -- an affirmance in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which held first that the name of a confidential informant in a -- an affidavit for a search warrant, need never be disclosed in a proceeding in which the defendant requires disclosure because he is asserting his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and second, said the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, "In any event, such disclosure need never be made unless the defendant can show that the informant was present at the time of the commission of the offense and indeed that he was the moving party in the commission of the offense.

Those are difficult and disturbing questions here for the -- this Court to decide.

It is as disturbing the conviction as I have ever encountered.

For not only is the continuing viability of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution at state here in the decision of the Seventh Circuit, but the petitioner himself stands burdened by a conviction for which he has received a sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

On the product of conjecture which is a word used by the Government in its brief, conjecture as to whether or not the informant might have helped him to exonerate himself from the accusation of the Government.

A third issue is at state here because the grant of certiorari was not limited to the points raised in the petition and that is under the circumstances here, was there sufficient evidence upon which to predicate the conviction, a conviction of possession of stolen property moving in interstate commerce, knowing the same to have been stolen.

(Inaudible) the grant wasn't limited to the question in the -- in the petition, what (Voice Overlap) --

Julius Lucius Echeles:

The grant was limited to the questions in the petition that these are the three --

Oh was.

I thought you said it was not.

Julius Lucius Echeles:

Yes, these are the three questions.

One of the questions was the sufficiency of the evidence.

Coming to the last point first, whether or not, under circumstances such as here, there was sufficient evidence to sustain the connection.

The facts are rather simple and essentially are not in dispute between the Government and the petitioner.

Petitioner was 55 years of age, married, lived with his wife in a family owned home.

He and his wife owned a home on the north side of Chicago.

He owned a grocery store and a meat market and his hours of activity were from 5:30 in the morning when he got up until about 7:30 or 8:30 at night when he came home.

On a day in question, March 22, 1962, the FBI agents in the execution of a search warrant previously obtained from a Commissioner in Chicago, executing a search warrant, went to the basement of the home of the Rugendorfs and in closets in the basement, found 81 furs which were subsequently identified as having been stolen in two burglaries.

One in Shreveport, Louisiana in December of 1961 and the other in Mountain Brook, Alabama in January of 1961.

Based on those facts and those facts alone, Rugendorf was convicted because furs were found in his home, in the basement in his home.

There was no evidence that Rugendorf himself knew of the existence of furs.

There was no evidence by the Government that he as much suspicioned the existence of the stolen furs in his basement.

The affidavit in support of the search warrant obtained by an FBI affiant revealed that Sam Rugendorf, petitioner here, had a brother, Leo Rugendorf.

And that from the facts as brought out both in the hearing on the motion to suppress the evidence and in the affidavit itself that Leo Rugendorf, brother of Sam, was a known fence, receiver of stolen property and that he, Leo, was associated with certain known thieves identified in the affidavit.

And that these thieves were the ones, according to the confidential informants, who had committed the burglaries in Alabama and in Mountain Brook, but not a word either in the affidavit or during the trial or during the hearing on the motions to suppress the evidence that Sam Rugendorf had knowledge of the existence of the furs.

Therefore, the Government's theory was that Rugendorf was guilty because he was in constructive possession of the furs.