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WILSON V. SCHNETTLER, 365 U. S. 381 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wilson v. Schnettler, 365 U.S. 381 (1961)

Wilson v. Schnettler

No. 182

Argued December 15, 1960

Decided February 27, 1961

365 U.S. 381


Respondents, who are federal agents, arrested petitioner without a warrant and seized narcotics which they found on his person in the course of an incidental search. They then delivered him to state authorities, who confined him in jail. After a state grand jury had indicted petitioner for possessing narcotics in violation of state law, he moved in a state court for an order suppressing use of the narcotics as evidence in his impending trial, and the state court denied the motion. Petitioner then sued in a federal district court to impound the narcotics, to enjoin their use in evidence, and to enjoin respondents from testifying at petitioner's trial in the state court. Although his complaint alleged that the arrest was made without a warrant, there was no allegation that it was made without probable cause.

Held: dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted is sustained. Pp. 365 U. S. 382-388.

(a) Since the complaint did not allege that the arrest was without probable cause, and since the arrest and incidental search and seizure were lawful if respondents had probable cause to make the arrest, the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Pp. 365 U. S. 383-384.

(b) Petitioner had a plain and adequate remedy at law in the criminal case pending against him in the state court. Pp. 365 U. S. 384-385.

(c) By this action in the federal court, petitioner sought not only to interfere with and embarrass the state court in the impending criminal case, but also completely to thwart its judgment by relitigating in a trial de novo the very issue that he had already litigated unsuccessfully in the state court, and that is not permissible. Pp. 365 U. S. 385-386.

(d) Rea v. United States, 350 U. S. 214, distinguished. Pp. 365 U. S. 387-388.

275 F.2d 932, affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 365 U. S. 382

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