United States v. Henry
Annotate this Case
447 U.S. 264 (1980)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Henry, 447 U.S. 264 (1980)
United States v. Henry
Argued January 16, 1980
Decided June 16, 1980
447 U.S. 264
After respondent was indicted for armed robbery of a bank, and while he was in jail pending trial, Government agents contacted an informant who was then an inmate confined in the same cellblock as respondent. An agent instructed the informant to be alert to any statements made by federal prisoners but not to initiate conversations with or question respondent regarding the charges against him. After the informant had been released from jail, he reported to the agent that he and respondent had engaged in conversation and that respondent made incriminating statements about the robbery. The informant was paid for furnishing the information. At respondent's trial, which resulted in a conviction, the informant testified about the incriminating statements that respondent had made to him. Respondent moved to vacate his sentence on the ground that the introduction of the informant's testimony interfered with and violated his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel. The District Court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Government's actions impaired respondent's Sixth Amendment rights under Massiah v. United States, 377 U. S. 201.
Held: Respondent's statements to the informant should not have been admitted at trial. By intentionally creating a situation likely to induce respondent to make incriminating statements without the assistance of counsel, the Government violated respondent's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Under the facts -- particularly the facts that the informant was acting under instructions as a paid informant for the Government while ostensibly no more than a fellow inmate, and that respondent was in custody and under indictment at the time -- incriminating statements were "deliberately elicited" from respondent within the meaning of Massiah. Since respondent was unaware that the informant was acting for the Government, he cannot be held to have waived his right to the assistance of counsel. Pp. 447 U. S. 269-275.
590 F.2d 544, affirmed.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 447 U. S. 275. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting
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