UNITED STATES V. PAYNER, 447 U. S. 727 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Payner, 447 U.S. 727 (1980)

United States v. Payner

No. 78-1729

Argued February 20, 1980

Decided June 23, 1980

447 U.S. 727


At respondent's nonjury trial for falsifying a federal income tax return by denying that he maintained a foreign bank account, respondent moved to suppress a loan guarantee agreement in which he pledged the funds in the bank account as security. The District Court found respondent guilty on the basis of all the evidence, but then (1) found that the Government had discovered the guarantee agreement as the result of a flagrantly illegal search of a bank officer's briefcase, (2) suppressed all the Government's evidence except for respondent's tax return and related testimony, and (3) set aside the conviction for failure to demonstrate knowing falsification. The court held, inter alia, that, although the illegal search did not violate respondent's Fourth Amendment rights, the inherent supervisory power of the federal courts required it to exclude evidence tainted by the illegal search. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. Respondent lacks standing under the Fourth Amendment to suppress the documents illegally seized from the bank officer. A defendant's Fourth Amendment rights are violated only when the challenged conduct invaded his legitimate expectation of privacy, rather than that of a third party, and respondent possessed no privacy interest in the documents seized in this case. Cf. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U. S. 128; United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435. Pp. 447 U. S. 731-733.

2. The supervisory power of the federal courts does not authorize a court to suppress otherwise admissible evidence on the ground that it was seized unlawfully from a third party not before the court. Under the Fourth Amendment, the interest in deterring illegal searches does not justify the exclusion of tainted evidence at the instance of a party who was not the victim of the challenged practices. And the values assigned to the competing interests of deterring illegal searches and of furnishing the trier of fact with all relevant evidence do not change because a court has elected to analyze the question under the supervisory power, instead of the Fourth Amendment. Such power does not extend so far as to confer on the judiciary discretionary power to disregard

Page 447 U. S. 728

the considered limitations of the law it is charged with enforcing.

Pp. 447 U. S. 733-737.

590 F.2d 206, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, WHITE, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J.,filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 447 U. S. 737. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 447 U. S. 738.

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