UNITED STATES V. KAHN, 415 U. S. 143 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Kahn, 415 U.S. 143 (1974)

United States v. Kahn

No. 72-1328

Argued December 11-12, 1973

Decided February 20, 1974

415 U.S. 143


On the Government's application for an order authorizing a wiretap interception of the home telephones of respondent Irving Kahn, a suspected bookmaker, pursuant to Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the District Judge entered an order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2518, which described the telephones to be tapped and found probable cause to believe that Mr. Kahn and "others as yet unknown" were using the telephones to conduct an illegal gambling business, and authorized FBI agents to intercept wire communications "of" Mr. Kahn and "others as yet unknown." The agents intercepted incriminating calls made by Mr. Kahn in Arizona to respondent Mrs. Kahn at their home in Chicago, and also incriminating calls made by Mrs. Kahn to "a known gambling figure." The respondents were subsequently indicted for violating the Travel Act. Upon being notified of the Government's intention to introduce the intercepted conversations at trial, respondents moved to suppress them. The District Court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, construing the requirements of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2518(1)(b)(iv) and 2518(4)(a) that the person whose communications are to be intercepted is to be identified, if known, as excluding from the term "others as yet unknown" any persons who careful Government investigation would disclose were probably using the telephones for illegal activities, and that, since the Government had not shown that further investigation of Mr. Kahn's activities would not have implicated his wife in the gambling business, she was not a "person as yet unknown" within the purview of the wiretap order.


1. Title III requires the naming of a person in the application or interception order only when the law enforcement authorities have probable cause to believe that that individual is "committing the offense" for which the wiretap is sought, and, since it is undisputed here that the Government had no reason to suspect Mrs. Kahn of complicity in the gambling business before the wiretapping

Page 415 U. S. 144

began, it follows that, under the statute, she was among the class of persons "as yet unknown" covered by the wiretap order. Pp. 415 U. S. 151-155.

2. Neither the language of the wiretap order nor hat of Title III requires the suppression of legally intercepted conversations to which Mr. Kahn was not himself a party. Pp. 415 U. S. 155-158.

471 F.2d 191, reversed and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 158.

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