Monday, December 23, 2013

United States v. Dionisio case brief

United States v. Dionisio case brief summary
410 U.S. 1 (1973)

Certiorari was issued to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to determine whether the compelled disclosure of voice exemplars before a grand jury was properly held to be a violation of U.S. Constitutional Amendment IV.

A grand jury was convened to investigate possible federal gambling crimes. Respondent was one of 20 witnesses subpoenaed by the grand jury.

  • The Court reversed the lower court's judgment and held that respondent's compulsory appearance before the grand jury was not an unreasonable seizure. 
  • Moreover, the grand jury's directive to make a voice recording did not infringe his rights under U.S. Constitutional Amendment IV
  • The Court stated that the obtaining of physical evidence from a person involved a potential violation of U.S. Constitutional Amendment IV at two different levels: first, the seizure of the person necessary to bring him into contact with government agents; second, the subsequent search for and seizure of the evidence. 
  • The Court found no constitutional violation with respect to the seizure of respondent, and distinguished the use of a grand jury subpoena from the unconstitutional dragnet methods of seizing suspects. 
  • Nor did the Court find any constitutional violation in taking a voice exemplar. 
  • The disclosure of a voice was immeasurably further removed from the Fourth Amendment protection than were other permissible bodily intrusions, such as the extraction of blood and fingerprints.

The Court reversed the judgment upon a finding that the subpoena to appear before a grand jury and directive to give a voice exemplar posed no unreasonable search and seizure in violation of respondent's rights.

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