416 U.S. 580 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. v. CHAVEZ , 416 U.S. 580 (1974)

416 U.S. 580

UNITED STATES, Petitioner,
Umberto Jose CHAVEZ et al.

UNITED STATES, Petitioner,
Dominic Nicholas GIORDANO et al.

Nos. 72-1319, 72-1057.

Supreme Court of the United States

May 13, 1974

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN, Mr. Justice STEWART, and Mr. Justice MARSHALL join, concurring in part and dissenting in part in No. 72-1319, United States v. Chavez, 416 U.S. 562, and concurring in No. 72-1057, United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505.

The Court deals with two different Justice Department violations of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which imposes express limitations on the use of electronic surveillance. In United States v. Giordano, the Court correctly finds that the violation of 18 U.S.C. 2516(1) is a violation of a statutory requirement which 'directly and substantially implement(s) the congressional intention to limit the use of intercept procedures to those situations clearly calling for the employment of this extraordinary investigative device.' The Court also properly finds that a violation of such a statutory requirement mandates suppression of the evidence seized by the unlawful interception. I join the opinion of the Court in Giordano. The same violation of 2516( 1) is also involved in the Fernandez wiretap in United States v. Chavez, and I therefore concur in the Court's suppression of the

Page 416 U.S. 580 , 581

evidence seized in that wiretap. In Chavez, however, the Court finds that suppression is not warranted for the violations of 18 U.S.C. 2518(1)(a) and 2518(4)(d) which the Court admits occurred in the Chavez wiretap itself. I dissent from this conclusion, hereinafter referred to as the holding of Chavez.


Title III permits electronic surveillance to be employed only pursuant to a court order. It requires, inter alia, that a federal trial attorney desiring to apply to the District Court for such a wiretap order must first secure authorization from one of a group of specified officials in the Justice Department. Giordano represents a class of cases in which authorization for electronic surveillance was given by Sol Lindenbaum, the Executive Assistant to Attorney General John Mitchell, in violation of the 'authorization requirement' of 2516(1) of Title III. This section provides that a wiretap order may be applied for only after authorization by '(t)he Attorney General, or any Assistant Attorney General specially designated by the Attorney General.' Chavez, on the other hand, represents a class of cases where the Justice Department violated the 'identification requirement' of 2518(1)(a) of Title III, which requires that each application made to the District Court for a wiretap order 'shall include . . . the identity of . . . the officer authorizing the application.' Because the District Courts in this class of cases were supplied with misinformation as to the identity of the person who authorized the applications made to them, the orders they entered approving the use of electronic surveillance violated 2518(4)(d) of Title III, which provides that such orders 'shall specify . . . the identity [416 U.S. 580 , 582]

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