Sabbath v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States District Court of Maryland

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

CITATION: 391 US 585 (1968)
ARGUED: May 02, 1968
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Sabbath v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 02, 1968 in Sabbath v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 898, Johnny Sabbath, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Bring.

Murray H. Bring:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case involves an important question of statutory interpretation with respect to a constitutionally inspired federal statue that governs the conduct of federal officers when they made or are required to break in to a private dwelling in order to affect another wise lawful arrest.

Also involved in the case is a question whether consistent with the Fourth Amendment federal officers may force their way into a private dwelling at night in order to make an arrest with other warrant under circumstances which did not excuse their failure to obtain the warrant.

The facts of the case are not complicated and maybe briefly summarized as follows; on Saturday evening February 19th, 1966, a man by the name of Edward Jones was entering the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro, California port of entry.

He was stopped by custom officials and was searched, whereupon the customs officials discovered a container of cocaine concealed in his undershorts.

They immediately arrested him for violations of the narcotics laws.

And thereupon, they began a process of interrogation.

Initially, Mr. Jones denied that he was involved in this elicit transaction with anyone else but after about three or four hours of interrogation, he admitted to the customs officers that he had actually been taken to Mexico on the preceding day by a person named Johnny, that Johnny had hired him to pick up the narcotics and bring them back to Los Angeles for delivery to Johnny and that Johnny had promised to pay him $100 if he did so.

At that point, the customs officials transported Jones from San Diego to Los Angeles and at approximately at 3 o?clock in the morning, Jones in the presence of the customs officers try to telephone a number in Los Angeles which was written on a card that the police officers found in Jones?s possession when he was arrested, also on a card was the named Johnny.

No one answered that telephone call and three or four other attempts were made to call that number during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 20th and again no answer was obtained.

The officers then for some reason which is undisclosed by the record transported Jones back to San Diego.

At 3:00 PM on the following afternoon, the officers again invited Jones to try and call the number in Los Angeles.

On this occasion, the call was answered by a male voice on the other side of the line.

Jones identified himself as BJ and addressed the person on the other side of the telephone as Johnny.

He indicated that he was still in San Diego and that he still had the thing.

Johnny then inquired whether Jones had any trouble in crossing the line.

Jones indicated that he had not and Johnny said that he had been arrested when he had been down in Mexico and that was the reason he was curious as to whether or not Jones had had any trouble.

Jones inquired whether Johnny was going to be in hes apartment and when Johnny said he would, Jones said well I'll come up to Los Angeles to your apartment.

At that point, the agents did not attempt to verify any further any of the information which had been given to them by Jones who dwell all intents and purposes was an unreliable informant nor did they go to a magistrate in an effort to try to obtain a warrant for Johnny's arrest.

Rather they transported Jones to Los Angeles.

They went to the location where Johnny's apartment was.

They outfitted Jones with an electronic transmitting device and they returned the container of cocaine to Jones and sent him to Johnny?s apartment.

At this time the officers of which there were four or five in number took up positions near the apartment.

And they attempted to overhear the conversation that took place between Jones and people inside of the apartment.

Jones went to the apartment, knocked on the door and the door was answered by a woman who was visiting Johnny at that time.

Jones asked if Johnny was in and the lady said that he was and that she would get him.

Jones then went into the apartment and the lady closed the door to the apartment.

Now, this much of the conversation was overheard by the officers who were listening to the electronic transmitting device.