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Hoffa v. United States


The defendant, the President of Teamsters Union, was on trial for labor racketeering. During the trial, he occupied a three-room suite in a hotel. Several friends and fellow teamster officials were the defendant’s constant companions during the trial. One companion was a teamster official and a government informant.

During the trial, the defendant told this companion/informant that he was attempting to bribe jurors to insure a hung jury, and made other incriminating statements. The companion/ informant reported these statements to the government. As the defendant predicted, the jury failed to reach a verdict in the case and a mistrial was declared. The government later tried the defendant for obstruction of justice.


Whether the presence of a government informant in the defendant’s hotel room was a search?


No. The defendant cannot reasonably expect privacy in conversations he openly engages in before a government informant, present by invitation of the defendant.


The defendant has no reasonable expectation that his conversation will not be reported to the government. Where the informant was in the suite by invitation, and every conversation that he heard was either directed to him or knowingly carried on in his presence, the defendant assumes the risk that the person will maintain confidentiality. The Fourth Amendment does not protect a wrongdoer’s misplaced belief that a person to whom he voluntarily confides his wrongdoing will not reveal it.


385 U.S. 293, 87 S. Ct. 408 (1966)

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