United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 70-153
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 407 US 297 (1972)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1972

ADVOCATES:
Arthur Kinoy - Argued the cause for the respondents Sinclair et al
Robert C. Mardian - Argued the cause for the United States
William T. Gossett - Argued the cause for the respondents the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan et al

Facts of the case

Investigating three people it suspected of conspiring to destroy government property and bombing a Central Intelligence Agency office, officials used electronic surveillance to record suspects' conversations. The wiretapping was conducted without a search warrant.

Question

Did the wiretapping violate the Fourth Amendment?

Media for United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 24, 1972 in United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in Number 70-153, United States against the District Court and others.

Mr. Mardian, you may proceed.

Robert C. Mardian:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case arises from a criminal proceeding which is now pending in the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in which the three defendants were charge with a conspiracy to destroy Government property.

One of the defendants, the defendant Plamondon was also charged the substant violation of destroying Government property.

Warren E. Burger:

Would you raise your voice a little Mr. Mardian.

Robert C. Mardian:

Yes, sir.

The indictments in this case resulted from the dynamite bombing of the Offices of the Central Intelligence Agency Building in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

During the course of the pretrial proceedings, motion was made for discovery of information relating to electronic surveillance that might be in possession of the Government.

In response to this motion, the Government served upon the movements an affidavit of the Attorney General of United States, in which he acknowledged that one to the defendants, the defendant Plamondon, had been overheard in the course of a surveillance authorized by him in which he deemed necessary in the interest of the National Security United States.

The affidavits stated that the disclosure of this information would be prejudicial to the interest of United States.

In addition to serving the affidavit on the movements and filing it with the Court, the Government also submitted to the Court for its in camera inspection, the logs of the over hearings requested by the defendants, included in that in that in camera submission, the Government also offered the of -- the proof of the authorization to the Attorney General of United States for the surveillance and question conducted prior to the time of the bombing.

The in camera exhibit will show, which is now before this Court, that it contains a memorandum from the Director of the FBI to the Attorney General, in which he sets forth all of the electric -- electronic surveillances operated by the Government at that time, approved by the Attorney General or by the former Attorney General.

Prior to submission however, the Government excised the names of the organizations and individuals which were the subject of surveillance with the exception of the organization which this -- which was the subject of surveillance in this case.

That in camera submission will also show, a characterization in the form of the memorandum from the Director of the FBI to the Attorney General, the organization in question, its leadership and its illegal aims and information relating to the fact that the organization was engaged in activities of a type which would ultimately lead to the destruction for the United States Government before some violence.

This in camera submission would also show that the authorization of the Attorney General was for a limited period only.

It described the premises where the installation surveillance was involved and indicated that the surveillance was subject to periodic review.

Based upon this in camera submission, the United States urged that the surveillance and question was lawful.

Potter Stewart:

Periodic review by whom, the Attorney General or the Director of the FBI?

Robert C. Mardian:

Pardon me, sir, I didn’t --

Potter Stewart:

You said it was subject to periodic review and by whom?

Robert C. Mardian:

By the Attorney General of the United States.

Potter Stewart:

By the Attorney General.

Robert C. Mardian:

Yes, sir.

Warren E. Burger:

Now is this surveillance, this pattern of surveillance traceable back to the directive which President Roosevelt gave to Attorney General Jackson in this area?

Robert C. Mardian:

Yes, Mr. Chief Justice.

The Government urged that this was a lawful surveillance exercised under the jurisdiction of the President United States and --

Thurgood Marshall:

Is that memorandum in the record?

Robert C. Mardian:

Yes, Your Honor.

Thurgood Marshall:

Of President Roosevelt?