United States v. Calandra

Facts of the Case

Respondent John P. Calandra’s place of business was searched by federal agents under a warrant issued in connection with a gambling investigation. The warrant specified that the object of the search was to discover and seize bookmaking records and wagering paraphernalia. One agent, who was of a possible federal investigation of loansharking activities, discovered and seized a document that suspected was connected to loansharking record. A federal grand jury investigating loansharking activities later subpoenaed Calandra to ask him about the seized evidence. Calandra refused to testify on Fifth Amendment grounds. After the Government then requested transactional immunity for Calandra, the district court granted Calandra’s motion to suppress on the grounds that the affidavit supporting the warrant was insufficient and that the search exceeded the scope of the warrant. The district court further ordered that Calandra need not answer any of the grand jury’s questions based on the suppressed evidence. On the Government’s appeal, the court of appeals affirmed. The Government was granted a writ of certiorari.


Can a witness refuse to answer questions before a grand jury when the questions are based on evidence obtained during a search that the witness feels is unlawful?


No. Justice Lewis F. Powell, writing for a 6-3 majority, reversed the lower court. The Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule does not apply in grand jury proceedings. The purpose of a grand jury is to determine whether a crime was committed and whether to charge someone in connection with that crime. Using the exclusionary rule would interfere with that purpose. The exclusionary rule is also meant to deter police misconduct, not provide a new constitutional right.Justice William J. Brennan dissented, writing that application of the exclusionary rule should not depend on whether it deters police misconduct. The exclusionary rule gives meaning to the Fourth Amendments protection against unlawful search and seizure. Justice William O. Douglas and Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the dissent.

Case Information

  • Citation: 414 US 338 (1974)
  • Argued: Oct 11, 1973
  • Decided Jan 8, 1974Granted: Feb 20, 1973