United States v. Valenzuela-Bernal

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Valenzuela-Bernal
LOCATION: José Aponte de la Torre Airport, formerly Roosevelt Roads Naval Station

DOCKET NO.: 81-450
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 458 US 858 (1982)
ARGUED: Apr 20, 1982
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1982

Carter G. Phillips - for petitioner
Eugene G. Iredale - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Valenzuela-Bernal

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 20, 1982 in United States v. Valenzuela-Bernal

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Powell.

We'll hear arguments first this morning in United States against Valenzuela-Bernal.

Mr. Phillips, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Carter G. Phillips:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, three questions presented.

First, the United States violates a criminal defendant's Fifth Amendment due process or Sixth Amendment compulsory process rights when it deports an illegal alien after making a reasonable investigation in concluding that the illegal alien has no material exculpatory evidence to make available to the defendant.

Second, assuming that the Government acts at its peril in deporting illegal aliens while the defendant in order to state a constitutional violation still must demonstrate that the laws of the illegal alien has caused him a concrete loss of material exculpatory evidence.

Finally, assuming that the Court of Appeals is correct, that the -- that the respondent's constitutional rights are violated when the defendant is deprived of no more than the loss of a conceivable benefit or the proper remedy for that technical constitutional violation is dismissal of the indictment against the respondent.

On March 29th, 1980, respondent was captured in the process of transporting five illegal aliens from Escondido, California to Los Angeles.

The circumstances surrounding respondent's arrest were explained by respondent in his own post arrest statement volunteered to Border Patrol agents.

Respondent is an illegal alien from Mexico, he entered the -- he entered this country approximately six days prior to his arrest with the assistance of an illegal alien smuggler.

He had been kept in a house in Escondido prior up to the day of his arrest.

On the day he was arrested, he agreed with the illegal alien smuggler to transport five additional illegal aliens to Los Angeles in return for the price of his illegal entry into this country.

Respondent had been told that the Border Patrol agents at the Temecula checkpoint were not actually checking for illegal aliens; unfortunately, for respondent, he was misinformed and was pulled over to the side or at least was motioned over to the side.

He slowed the car down and then drove away at a very high rate of speed.

Border Patrol agents chased him, two agents in a single car and respondent stopped his car approximately a mile away from the checkpoint and fled on foot along with the other five illegal aliens.

Respondent and three illegal aliens were captured by the Border Patrol agents; two other illegal aliens, however, escaped.

The Border Patrol agents then returned the respondent back to the Border Patrol checkpoint, informed the respondent of his right to remain silent.

He, however, waives the right and agreed to make a statement under oath.

In the recorded statement, he explained his decision to flee from the Border Patrol checkpoint on the basis, “I already knew that I had had it, too late.

It was done.”

Later, he told the agents, “I acknowledge the charge of driving.”

The agents also interviewed the other illegal aliens and they all admitted that they were in the county illegally and the respondent had been the driver of the car.

The Border Patrol agent at that point or soon thereafter called the Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of California for advice as to how to proceed in the case.

The Assistant U.S. Attorney based on the information regarding the respondent's apparent confession, the accumulative nature of -- of the statements made by the three additional illegal aliens and the general circumstances surrounding the arrest, the flight, et cetera, decided that no useful purpose would be served either for the Government or for the defendant in requiring two otherwise none -- not prosecutable by our -- in our discretion, however, but not prosecutable illegal aliens to remain in custody and therefore authorized the release of those two illegal aliens back in Mexico.

John Paul Stevens:

Were any statements taken from them before they were released?

Carter G. Phillips:

Yes, sir.

There were.

John Paul Stevens:

What happened to the statement?

Carter G. Phillips:

Well, unfortunately, the tape recorder had malfunctioned.