United States v. Donovan

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

DOCKET NO.: 75-212
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 429 US 413 (1977)
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1976
DECIDED: Jan 18, 1977

Mr. Andrew L. Frey - for petitioner
Bernard A. Berkman - for respondents
Carmen A. Policy - for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Donovan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 13, 1976 in United States v. Donovan

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 18, 1977 in United States v. Donovan

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 75-212, United States against Donovan will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case here from the Sixth Circuit presents a number of issues under Title III of the Federal Wiretap Statute.

In an opinion filed today with the Clerk, the Court holds first that applications for judicial authorization of wiretaps must identify all persons whose relevant conversations the Government has probable cause to believe it will intercept.

The statutory requirements are not satisfied when the Government identifies only the principal target of the investigation.

The Court grab and holds that the Government must supply the issuing judge with sufficient information of other parties who are overheard to enable him to decide whether such parties must be notified of the interception.

Finally, we hold that under all the circumstances of this case, the failure of the Government to comply fully with these statutory obligations did not make the intercept unlawfully.

We therefore conclude that it was error to suppress the evidence obtained by these interceptions.

An order of the Court of Appeals is readdressed and the case is remanded to that Court.

The Chief Justice has filed a concurring opinion.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan concurs.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.