Dahda v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: October 16, 2017
  • Case #: 17-43
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 853 F.3d 1101
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510–2520, requires suppression of evidence obtained pursuant to a wiretap order that is facially insufficient because the order exceeds the judge’s territorial jurisdiction.

Petitioners were indicted and convicted on a theory of conspiracy to distribute drugs. Their conviction largely rested upon intercepted wiretap evidence. The order of the federal district court permitted procurement of cell phone communication from posts outside of the court's jurisdiction. Petitioners' motion to suppress was denied. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit held the wiretap order was “facially insufficient” based on the extra-jurisdictional authorization, but allowed admission of the intercepted communication because suppression was not appropriate. The authority to obtain wiretaps stems from Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which limits interception to territory where the court issuing the order has jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 2510. However, the circuit held congressional intent limits exclusion of the intercepted evidence at trial or other proceedings to violations of the "core concerns" of the statute. The Tenth Circuit reasoned that admission is permissible because the order did not violate the “core concerns” of Title III; namely, (1) protection of private communication and (2) creating a uniform standard for the utilization of wiretaps and intercepted communication. The Court also recognized their decision conflicts with United States v. Glover, 736 F.3d 509 (D.C. Cir. 2013), which expressly held territorial jurisdiction was a "core concern" of Title III and allowed suppression. Claiming that the “core concerns” test originated from judiciary and not the statutory text, Petitioners ask the Court to resolve the split among the circuits and provide further guidance on the process of evidentiary suppression in the context of wiretap interception. Petitioners argue the wiretap orders were facially invalid and should suppressed because the interception of their communications was unlawful under the Title III remedy provision.

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