BURDEAU V. MCDOWELL, 256 U. S. 465 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465 (1921)

Burdeau v. McDowell

No. 66

Argued April 11, 12, 1921

Decided June 1, 1921

256 U.S. 465


1. The United States may retain for use as evidence in the criminal prosecution of their owner incriminating documents which are turned over to it by private individuals who procured them, without the participation or knowledge of any government official, through a wrongful search of the owner's private desk and papers in an office. P. 256 U. S. 474.

2. The provision of the Fourth Amendment forbidding unreasonable searches and seizures refers to governmental action; the Fifth Amendment secures the citizen from compulsory testimony against himself by protecting him from extorted confessions and examinations in court proceedings by compulsory methods. P. 256 U. S. 475.


Appeal from an order of the district court requiring that certain books and papers be impounded with the clerk and ultimately returned to the appellee, and enjoining officers of the Department of Justice from using them, or evidence derived through them, in criminal proceedings against him. The facts are stated in the opinion, post 470.

Page 256 U. S. 470

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