United States v. Havens

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Havens
LOCATION: E.L. Aaron & Co., Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 79-305
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 446 US 620 (1980)
ARGUED: Mar 19, 1980
DECIDED: May 27, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Mr. Andrew L. Frey - for petitioner
William C. Lee - for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Havens

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 19, 1980 (Part 1) in United States v. Havens

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 19, 1980 (Part 2) in United States v. Havens

Warren E. Burger:

Do you have anything further, Mr. Lee?

William C. Lee:

Yes, just if I -- Your Honor.

Warren E. Burger:

Very well.

William C. Lee:

Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court.

Very briefly to conclude having taken the position and I hope supported it that if the Government is to be granted its relief, it will require the reversal for the overruling of Agnello.

I'd like to discuss very briefly the policy considerations which have been touched on in the briefs about whether or not the abolition of the exclusionary rule in these situations would be appropriate.

I think that there are some real problems in that as I've already suggested.

First, I think any prosecutor who is competent to be in the courtroom could have, in this case or in many other cases where there is a piece of evidence that has been improperly seized which can be related to the transaction at issue, can surely develop a line of cross-examination to cause the admission of that evidence.

If that's the case, and if you accept the premise that it's very important --

Warren E. Burger:

Well, is that different -- is that fundamentally different from many tactical choices and options that are available in the trial of a lawsuit?

William C. Lee:

No.

Except that in this instance, it's our position, it's violative of the Fourth Amendment.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, of course, that was argued in Walder and in Harris and --

William C. Lee:

Not -- not where -- as I've stated earlier, the issue was first raised upon the cross-examination of the defendant.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, if someone suggested before that that's a line that's sometimes difficult to identify.

William C. Lee:

It -- it maybe but I think it happens to exist.

Yes, Your Honor, I agree.

Warren E. Burger:

And sometimes it's a moveable line.

William C. Lee:

Perhaps.

Warren E. Burger:

It's not immutable.

William C. Lee:

Alright.

The second point that I wish to make to relate to that is that because of the interest in the prosecution in keeping defendants off the stand and the opportunity to use improperly suppressed evidence to do so, there would be an incentive in fact to gather evidence, properly or improperly seized with the thought that as long as we have it in the file, we can use it to keep the defendant from the witness stand.

And therefore, it will serve a very useful purpose in the prosecution of the case.

Warren E. Burger:

More often than not, the -- the greatest hope that a prosecutor has in any case is that the defendant will take the stand.

William C. Lee:

I -- well --

Warren E. Burger:

It's -- it's hardly persuasive to suggest this --

William C. Lee:

We have -- we have cited at Footnote 13 of our brief an authority for the converse of that, so I'll have to let the Court evaluate that point.

Warren E. Burger:

Does it cite some substantial supporting data?

William C. Lee:

It is a handbook on criminal procedure which says that you should do everything you want to, to keep the defendant off the witness stand.

[Laughs]