Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Supreme Court of the United States
February 20, 21, 1928, Argued ; June 4, 1928, Decided
Nos. 493, 532 and 533.
[*455] [**564] [***947] MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases are here by certiorari from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 19 F. (2d) 842 and 850. The petition in No. 493 was filed August 30, 1927; in Nos. 532 and 533, September [**565] 9, 1927. They were granted with the distinct limitation that the hearing should be confined to the single question whether the use of evidence of private telephone conversations between the defendants and others, intercepted by means of wire tapping, amounted to a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
The petitioners were convicted in the District Court for the Western District of Washington of a conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act by unlawfully possessing, transporting and importing intoxicating liquors and maintaining nuisances, and by selling intoxicating liquors. Seventy-two others in addition to the petitioners were indicted. Some were not apprehended, some were acquitted and others pleaded guilty.
The evidence in the records discloses a conspiracy of amazing magnitude to import, possess and sell liquor [*456] [****30] unlawfully. It involved the employment of not less than fifty persons, of two seagoing vessels for the transportation of liquor to British Columbia, of smaller vessels for coastwise transportation to the State of Washington, the purchase and use of a ranch beyond the suburban limits of Seattle, with a large underground cache for storage and a number of smaller caches in that city, the maintenance of a central office manned with operators, the employment of executives, salesmen, deliverymen, dispatchers, scouts, bookkeepers, collectors and an attorney. In a bad month sales amounted to $176,000; the aggregate for a year must have exceeded two millions of dollars.
Olmstead was the leading conspirator and the general manager of the business. He made a contribution of $10,000 to the capital; eleven others contributed $1,000 each. The profits were divided one-half to Olmstead and the remainder to the other eleven. Of the several offices in Seattle the chief one was in a large office building. In this there were three telephones on three different lines. There were telephones in an office of the manager in his own home, at the homes of his associates, and at other places in the [****31] city. Communication was had frequently with Vancouver, British Columbia. Times were fixed for the deliveries of the "stuff," to places along Puget Sound near Seattle and from there the liquor was removed and deposited in the caches already referred to. One of the chief men was always on duty at the main office to receive orders by telephones and to direct their filling by a corps of men stationed in another room -- the "bull pen." The call numbers of the telephones were given to those known to be likely customers. At times the sales amounted to 200 cases of liquor per day.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
277 U.S. 438 *; 48 S. Ct. 564 **; 72 L. Ed. 944 ***; 1928 U.S. LEXIS 694 ****; 66 A.L.R. 376
OLMSTEAD ET AL. v. UNITED STATES; GREEN ET AL. v. SAME; McINNIS v. SAME.
Subsequent History: As Amended.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
CERTIORARI, 276 U.S. 609, to judgments of the Circuit Court of Appeals affirming convictions of conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Act. See 5 F. (2d) 712; 7 F. (2d) 756, 760. The order granting certiorari confined the hearing to the question whether the use in evidence of private telephone conversations, intercepted by means of wire tapping, violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
Disposition: The Court affirmed convictions because the wire tapping did not amount to a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. There was no room for applying the Fifth Amendment unless the Fourth Amendment was first violated.
telephone, papers, cases, search and seizure, effects, seizure, wires, messages, words, conversations, courts, wire-tapping, intercepted, arrest, seized, tapped, unreasonable search and seizure, inadmissible, invasion, invoice, liquor, sealed, mail, conspiracy, confined, houses, rights, federal official, wire tapping, conspirators
Criminal Law & Procedure, Search Warrants, Probable Cause, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Affirmations & Oaths, Seizure of Things, Defendant's Rights, Right to Remain Silent, Self-Incrimination Privilege, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Exclusion & Preservation by Prosecutors, Criminal Offenses, Illegal Eavesdropping, Elements, Miscellaneous Offenses, Illegally Obtained Evidence, Eavesdropping, Interception & Wiretapping, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Rule Application & Interpretation, Claims By & Against, State & Territorial Governments, Statehood