United States v. Havens Case Brief

Why is the case important?

The Defendant was convicted of importing and possessing cocaine. He and a co-defendant were search when entering Miami after returning from Lima, Peru. The co-defendant had hidden pockets of cocaine sewn into his t-shirt and a t-shirt with pieces missing was recovered from Defendant’s suitcase.

Facts of the case

Question

Was the t-shirt evidence properly allowed to impeach the Defendant’s testimony even though it was obtained pursuant to an unlawful search?

Answer

Justice White delivered the opinion of the United States Supreme Court in reversing the Court of Appeals and holding that the t-shirt evidence was properly allowed.

Conclusion

The Court held that illegally seized evidence was properly admitted to impeach any aspect of defendant’s testimony, and that such impeachment was not limited to a direct contradiction of a particular statement made during direct testimony.

  • Case Brief: 1980
  • Petitioner: United States
  • Respondent: Havens
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 446 US 620 (1980)
Argued: Mar 19, 1980
Decided: May 27, 1980