Carroll v. United States
Annotate this Case
354 U.S. 394 (1957)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Carroll v. United States, 354 U.S. 394 (1957)
Carroll v. United States
Argued April 4, 1957
Decided June 24, 1957
354 U.S. 394
Petitioners were arrested on warrants and subsequently were indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for violations of local lottery laws and for conspiracy to violate them. After indictment, each filed a pretrial motion under Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for suppression of evidence seized from his person at the time of his arrest. The District Court granted the motions on the ground that probable cause had been lacking for issuance of the arrest warrants. Urging that, without the evidence that had been seized and suppressed, it would have to dismiss the indictment for want of sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution, the Government appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reversed the District Court.
Held: the appeal should have been dismissed; the Government had no right to appeal from such an order in such circumstances, either under the general statutes relating to the appellate jurisdiction of all federal courts of appeals or under the special statutes relating to the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Pp. 354 U. S. 396-415.
1. The suppression order here involved is not sufficiently separable and collateral to the criminal case to be "final," and hence appealable under the general authority of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, giving the federal courts of appeals jurisdiction of appeals from "all final decisions" of the district courts. Pp. 354 U. S. 399-408.
(a) Appellate jurisdiction in a specific federal court over a given type of case is dependent on authority expressly conferred by statute. Pp. 354 U. S. 399-400.
(b) In federal jurisprudence, at least, appeals by the Government in criminal cases are something unusual, exceptional and not favored. Pp. 354 U. S. 400-403.
(c) The suppression order here involved, having been entered after indictment and in the district of trial, has an interlocutory character, and therefore cannot be appealed by the Government as a "final decision." Pp. 354 U. S. 403-405.
(d) The suppression order here involved does not have sufficient characteristics of independence and completeness to make it appealable as an order separable from, or collateral to, the criminal case. Pp. 354 U. S. 403-408.
2. The suppression order here involved is not a "final" order within the criminal case, and thus appealable under the statutory provisions applicable in the District of Columbia in criminal cases. Pp. 354 U. S. 408-415.
(a) Even today, criminal appeals by the Government in the District of Columbia are not limited to the categories set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3731, although, as to cases covered by that nationwide jurisdictional statute, its explicit directions will prevail over the terms of § 935 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901, now found in §23-105 of the District of Columbia Code (1951 ed.). Pp. 354 U. S. 408-411.
(b) Under § 226 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901, the practice had developed of allowing appeals from interlocutory orders in criminal cases; but § 226 was replaced in 1949 by the nationwide appellate jurisdiction provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§1291 and 1292, which do not authorize interlocutory appeals in criminal cases. Pp. 354 U. S. 411-413.
(c) The standard of "final decisions" as prerequisite to appeal is not something less or different under 18 U.S.C. § 1291 as the successor to § 226 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901 than it is under § 1291 as the successor to the nationally applicable appeal provisions of the Judicial Code. P. 354 U. S. 413.
(d) The statutory provisions applicable to the District of Columbia, subject to the further limitations stated therein, afford the Government an appeal only from an order against it which terminates a prosecution or makes a decision whose distinct or plenary character meets the standards of the precedents applicable to finality problems in all federal courts. Pp. 354 U. S. 413-415.
98 U.S.App.D.C. 244, 234 F.2d 679, reversed and remanded.