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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued January 12, 1976 ; April 21, 1976
MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court. [*436] Respondent was convicted of possessing an unregistered still, carrying on the business of a distiller without giving bond and with intent to defraud the Government of whiskey tax, possessing 175 gallons of whiskey upon which no taxes had been paid, and conspiring to defraud the United States of tax revenues. 26 U.S.C. §§ 5179, 5205, 5601 et seq.; 18 U.S.C. § 371. Prior to trial respondent moved to suppress copies of checks and other bank records obtained by means of allegedly defective subpoenas duces tecum served upon two banks at which he had accounts. The records had been maintained by the banks in compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, 84 Stat. 1114, 12 U.S.C. § 1829b (d).
[***75] [*437] The District Court overruled respondent's motion to suppress, and the evidence was admitted. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed on the ground that a depositor's Fourth Amendment rights are violated [****5] when bank records maintained pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act are obtained by means of a defective subpoena. It held that any evidence so obtained must be suppressed. Since we find that respondent had no protectable Fourth Amendment interest in the subpoenaed documents, we reverse the decision below.
On December 18, 1972, in response to an informant's tip, a deputy sheriff from Houston County, Ga., stopped a van-type truck occupied by two of respondent's alleged co-conspirators. [***76] The truck contained distillery apparatus and raw material. On January 9, 1973, a fire broke out in a Kathleen, Ga., warehouse rented to respondent. During the blaze firemen and sheriff department officials discovered a 7,500-gallon-capacity distillery, 175 gallons of non-tax-paid whiskey, and related paraphernalia.
Two weeks later agents from the Treasury Department's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau presented grand jury subpoenas issued in blank by the clerk of the District Court, and completed by the United States Attorney's office, to the presidents of the Citizens & Southern National Bank of Warner Robins and the Bank of Byron, where respondent maintained accounts. [****6] The subpoenas required the two presidents to appear on January 24, 1973, and to produce S"all records of accounts, i.e., savings, checking, loan or otherwise, in the name of Mr. Mitch Miller [respondent], 3859 Mathis Street, Macon, Ga. and/or Mitch Miller Associates, 100 Executive
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425 U.S. 435 *; 96 S. Ct. 1619 **; 48 L. Ed. 2d 71 ***; 1976 U.S. LEXIS 148 ****; 76-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P9380; 37 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 1261
UNITED STATES v. MILLER
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
Disposition: The Court reversed the appellate court's judgment setting aside defendant's convictions and remanded the case for further proceedings on an issue that had been deferred.
records, subpoenas, depositor, banks, checks, copies, customer, privacy, Bank Secrecy Act, rights, legal process, papers, documents, expectation of privacy, search and seizure, bank statement, bank records, transactions, motion to suppress, recordkeeping, deposit slip, grand jury, suppress
Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Expectation of Privacy, Banking Law, Criminal Offenses, Money Laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, General Overview, Business & Corporate Compliance, Federal Income Tax Computation, Tax Accounting, Accounting Records, Tax Law, State & Local Taxes, Administration & Procedure, Audits & Investigations, Discovery & Inspection, Discovery by Government, Search Warrants, Particularity Requirement, Warrantless Searches, National Security, Warrants