The Internal Revenue Service launched an investigation into the financial activities of United States citizens in the Bahamas. Agents focused their suspicion on the Castle Bank. An IRS agent asked Casper, a private investigator and occasional informant, to learn what he could about the Castle Bank, of which the defendant had been a client. Casper cultivated a friendship with a Castle Bank Vice President. Casper introduced the Vice President to another private investigator, Ms. Kennedy. When Casper learned that the Vice President intended to spend a few days in Miami, he devised a scheme to gain access to bank records the Vice President might be carrying in his briefcase. The IRS agent approved the basic outline of the plan.
The Vice President arrived in Miami and went directly to Ms. Kennedy’s apartment. Shortly after the two left for dinner, Casper entered the apartment using a key supplied by Kennedy. He removed the briefcase and delivered it to the agent. The agent supervised the photocopying of approximately 400 documents taken from the briefcase. The records were returned without the Vice President’s knowledge of their removal. The photocopied documents led to the indictment of one of the bank’s clients for falsifying his income tax return.
1. Whether the defendant has standing to object to the illegal search and seizure of the Vice President’s briefcase?
2. Whether the defendant’s right to due process had been violated by the gross illegality of the government?
1. No. The defendant does not have standing to block the admission of evidence derived through violations of the constitutional rights of others.
2. No. The defendant’s right to due process was not violated by the government’s actions.
The defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the Castle Bank documents taken from the Vice President. He neither owned nor had control over the briefcase. Therefore, he has no standing to object to the illegal search and seizure of the briefcase.
Although courts should not condone unconstitutional and possible criminal behavior by government agents, such behavior does not demand the exclusion of evidence in every case of illegality. Rather, courts must weigh the applicable principles against the considerable harm that would flow from indiscriminate application of the exclusionary rule.
447 U.S. 727, 100 S. Ct. 2439 (1980)