United States v. Patane

PETITIONER:United States
RESPONDENT:Samuel Francis Patane
LOCATION:Elk Grove Unified School District

DOCKET NO.: 02-1183
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 542 US 630 (2004)
GRANTED: Apr 21, 2003
ARGUED: Dec 09, 2003
DECIDED: Jun 28, 2004

Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben – argued the cause for petitioner
Jill M. Wichlens – argued the cause for Respondent
Michael R. Dreeben – argued the cause for Petitioner

Facts of the case

Samuel Patane was arrested at his home for calling his ex-girlfriend in violation of a restraining order. During the arrest, police offers began reading Patane his Miranda rights. Patane told the officers that he knew his rights. The officers then stopped reading them, at which point Patane told police that he had a gun in his house. They searched the house with his permission and found the gun. As an ex-felon, Patane was not permitted to possess a gun and was prosecuted for possession.

During the trial on gun possession charges, Patane argued that his arrest violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate oneself because there was not probable cause to arrest him and because the gun had been found as a result of an un-Mirandized confession.

The district court initially ruled that there was not probable cause for his arrest and that it was therefore unconstitutional. A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed, holding that Patane’s ex-girlfriend had given police probable cause for the arrest. However, the panel held that gun could not be used as evidence because it had been found as the result of an un-Mirandized (and therefore unconstitutional) confession. The government appealed, arguing that physical evidence found as the result of un-Mirandized testimony could be used in court, despite the fact that the testimony itself was inadmissable.


Can physical evidence found as a result of un-Mirandized but voluntary testimony be used in court?

Media for United States v. Patane

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 09, 2003 in United States v. Patane

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 28, 2004 in United States v. Patane

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 02-1183, United States against Patane will be announced by Justice Thomas.

Clarence Thomas:

This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

In June 2001, local law enforcement officials investigated whether respondent, Samuel Francis Patane, a convicted felon, illegally possessed a firearm and whether he had violated a restraining order.

Officer Fox and detective Benner proceeded to respondent’s residence where after brief questioning relating to the restraining order, detective Benner attempted to advice respondent of his Miranda rights.

Respondent interrupted asserting that he knew his rights.

Neither officer attempted to complete the warning.

Detective Benner asked about the firearm and respondent told him that his pistol was in his bedroom and gave him permission to retrieve it.

A federal grand jury indicted respondent for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The District Court granted respondent’s motion to suppress the gun reasoning that the officers lack probable cause for arresting respondent for violating the restraining order.

It therefore, did not need to rule on his alternative argument that the gun should be suppressed as a fruit of an unwarned statement.

The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s ruling with respect to probable cause but affirmed the suppression order on respondent’s alternative theory.

The Court rejected the government’s argument that this Court’s decision in Oregon versus Elstad and Michigan versus Tucker foreclosed the application of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine to the present context.

These holdings, the Court of Appeals have reasoned, were based on a view that Miranda announced the prophylactic rule a view that that Court could not reconcile with our decision in Dickerson versus the United States.

The Court of Appeals thereby equated Dickinson’s announcement that Miranda is a constitutional rule with the proposition that a failure to warn pursuant to Miranda is itself a violation of the constitution.

I have written an opinion filed with the Clerk today announcing the judgment of the Court to reverse.

The Chief Justice and Justice Scalia have joined that opinion; Justice Kennedy has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice O’Connor has joined; Justice Suoter has filed a descending opinion in which Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg have joined; Justice Breyer has also filed a dissenting opinion.