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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1 (1973)

United States v. Dionisio

No. 71-229

Argued November 6, 1972

Decided January 22, 1973

410 U.S. 1


A grand jury subpoenaed about 20 persons, including respondent, to give voice exemplars for identification purposes. Respondent, on Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds, refused to comply. The District Court rejected both claims and adjudged respondent in contempt. The Court of Appeals agreed in rejecting respondent's Fifth Amendment claim but reversed on the ground that the Fourth Amendment required a preliminary showing of reasonableness before a grand jury witness could be compelled to furnish a voice exemplar and that, here, the proposed "seizures" would be unreasonable because of the large number of witnesses subpoenaed to produce the exemplars.


1. The compelled production of the voice exemplars would not violate the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, since they were to be used only for identification purposes, and not for the testimonial or communicative content of the utterances. Pp. 410 U. S. 5-7.

2. Respondent's Fourth Amendment claim is also invalid. Pp. 410 U. S. 8-18.

(a) A subpoena to compel a person to appear before a grand jury does not constitute a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and the fact that many others besides respondent were ordered to give voice recordings did not render

Page 410 U. S. 2

the subpoena unconstitutional. Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U. S. 721, distinguished. Pp. 410 U. S. 8-13.

(b) The grand jury's directive to make the voice recording infringed no valid Fourth Amendment interest. Pp. 410 U. S. 13-15.

(c) Since neither the summons to appear before the grand jury nor its directive to give a voice exemplar contravened the Fourth Amendment, the Court of Appeals erred in requiring a preliminary showing of reasonableness before respondent could be compelled to furnish the exemplar. Pp. 410 U. S. 15-16.

442 F.2d 276, reversed and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 410 U. S. 22. DOUGLAS,AS, J., post, p. 410 U. S. 23, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 410 U. S. 31, filed dissenting opinions.

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