United States v. Janis

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Fairfax-Brewster School

DOCKET NO.: 74-958
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 428 US 433 (1976)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1975
DECIDED: Jul 06, 1976

Herbert D. Sturman – for respondent
Robert H. Bork – for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Janis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 08, 1975 in United States v. Janis

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – July 06, 1976 in United States v. Janis

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 74-958, United Sates against Janis will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, this case comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

A search warrant was issued by a Los Angeles State Judge and pursuant to that warrant the local police seized from respondent Janis about $5,000 in cash and some wagering records.

The police then advised the Federal Internal Revenue Service that Janis had been arrested for bookmaking activity.

The Service, in its turn, calculated what his income might have been based upon the evidence so seized and assessed wagering excise taxes against him and levied upon the cash in partial satisfaction.

Later in the state criminal proceeding the California Court found the affidavit that had supported the search warrant to be defective and it quashed the warrant and ordered the seized items returned to Mr. Janis except for the cash that had been levied upon in the meantime by the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Janis then filed a claim for refund and brought the present civil suit.

In this federal tax suit, Janis also moved to suppress the evidence that had been seized by the Los Angeles police.

The Federal District Court granted that motion on the ground that the assessment was based, in large part, if not completely, on evidence that had procured in violation of Janis’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Now this, of course, precisely poses the issue of the application of the so-called Exclusionary Rule under the circumstances.

We have a situation where the evidence, in question, was obtained pursuant to a search warrant issued on the state side and later decided in the state criminal proceeding that the underlying warrant was defective.

Meanwhile, the evidence was in the hands of the federal authorities and the tax was assessed.

The question is whether the invalidity of the state warrant removes the evidence from the federal authority so far as the imposition of a federal tax is concerned.

We hold that the Exclusionary Rule, which is judicially created, should not be extended to forbid the use in the civil proceeding of one sovereign of evidence seized by a criminal law enforcement agent of another sovereign.

We reach this conclusion because the likelihood of deterring law enforcement conduct, through an extension of the Exclusionary Rule to this situation, is not sufficient to outweigh the cost to society that the Exclusionary Rule imposes.

The prime, if not the sole purpose of the rule, is to deter future unlawful police conduct.

We feel that even assuming that the Exclusionary Rule is a deterrent, its use in situations, where it is now applied, must be deemed to suffice to accomplish that purpose.

Any additional marginal deterrence provided by its extension in a case like this one does not outweigh the societal cost of excluding concededly relevant evidence from the federal trial.

Thus, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined in that opinion by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Mr. Justice Stewart has also filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.