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LOPEZ V. UNITED STATES, 373 U. S. 427 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lopez v. United States, 373 U.S. 427 (1963)

Lopez v. United States

No. 236

Argued January 14, 1963

Decided May 27, 1963

373 U.S. 427


In a Federal District Court, petitioner was convicted of attempting to bribe an Internal Revenue Agent in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201. The Agent was investigating possible evasion of excise taxes on cabarets. On a visit to petitioner's inn, the Agent saw dancing in the bar and lounge, spoke to petitioner about it, and suggested that the inn might be liable for a cabaret tax. According to the Agent's testimony, petitioner suggested, after some discussion, that the Agent could drop the case, gave him $420, and promised more in the future. Petitioner also promised to file a return for the current quarter, and invited the Agent to return a few days later. When he kept that appointment, the Agent carried with him a pocket wire recorder which recorded his conversation with petitioner. The Agent produced an excise tax return form and started to explain it. Petitioner told the Agent that he wanted the Agent to be on petitioner's side, gave him some money, and promised more. At the trial, the Agent testified concerning his conversations with petitioner, and his testimony was corroborated by the admission in evidence of the recording of the last conversation. Petitioner's counsel did not request acquittal on the ground of entrapment, request any instruction on that subject, or object to the instructions actually given. He did object to the admission in evidence of the recording of the Agent's conversation with petitioner, on the ground that it was inadmissible as the fruit of a fraudulent entry into petitioner's private office in violation of the Fourth Amendment.


1. On the record in this case, entrapment was not shown as a matter of law; and, if there was any error in the trial court's instructions on this subject, it was not reversible error. Pp. 373 U. S. 434-437.

2. Both the Agent's testimony pertaining to his conversation with petitioner and the wire recording of that conversation were properly admitted in evidence. Pp. 373 U. S. 437-440.

(a) The Agent was not guilty of an unlawful invasion of petitioner's office in violation of hi rights under the Fourth Amendment chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 373 U. S. 428

simply because his apparent willingness to accept a bribe was not real. Pp. 373 U. S. 437-438.

(b) The secret making of the wire recording of the conversation did not violate petitioner's rights under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 373 U. S. 438-439.

(c) This Court should not, in the exercise of its supervisory powers, prevent the introduction of the recording in evidence, since there was no manifestly improper conduct by federal officials. P. 373 U. S. 440.

305 F.2d 825, affirmed.

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