Hoffa v. United States
Annotate this Case
385 U.S. 293 (1966)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293 (1966)
Hoffa v. United States
Argued October 13, 1966
Decided December 12, 1966
385 U.S. 293
Petitioners were convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1503 for endeavoring to bribe members of a jury in a previous trial of petitioner Hoffa, for violating the Taft-Hartley Act, which resulted in a hung jury. Substantial information and evidence were given in the prosecution by Partin, a paid government informer, who, throughout the Taft-Hartley trial, was repeatedly in Hoffa's company -- in Hoffa's hotel suite, the hotel lobby, and elsewhere. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions, and this Court granted certiorari on the question whether the use of evidence furnished by the informer rendered the convictions invalid.
1. No rights under the Fourth Amendment were violated by the failure of Partin to disclose his role as a government informer. When Hoffa made incriminating statements to or in the presence of Partin, his invitee, he relied not on the security of the hotel room, but on his misplaced confidence that Partin would not reveal his wrongdoing. Pp. 385 U. S. 300-303.
2. Hoffa's conversations with Partin, being entirely voluntary, involved no Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination. Pp. 385 U. S. 303-304.
3. There was no violation of any Sixth Amendment right to counsel in this case. Pp. 385 U. S. 304-310.
(a) A Sixth Amendment violation resulting from Partin's reporting to the Government on the activities of Hoffa's counsel in preparing the defense of the Taft-Hartley trial might have invalidated any conviction in that trial. But the conviction in the subsequent trial for the different offense of endeavoring to bribe jurors was not rendered invalid by the admission of Hoffa's incriminating statements heard by Partin, none of which were made in the presence of counsel or in connection with the legitimate defense of the Taft-Hartley trial. Caldwell v. United States,
92 U.S.App.D.C. 355, 205 F.2d 879; Coplon v. United States, 89 U.S.App.D.C. 103, 191 F.2d 749, distinguished. Pp. 385 U. S. 306-309.
(b) The Government was not obliged to arrest Hoffa when it first had probable cause to do so, though his admissions without counsel after arrest might have been barred, since law enforcement officers have no duty to halt a crime investigation when they have minimum evidence to establish probable cause. Pp. 385 U. S. 309-310.
4. The use of a secret informer is not per se unconstitutional, and the use of Partin in this case did not violate due process requirements, his veracity having been fully subject to the safeguards of cross-examination and the trial court's instructions to the jury. Pp. 385 U. S. 310-312.
349 F.2d 20, affirmed.