United States Supreme Court
435 U.S. 268 (1978)
A police officer entered Lois Hennessy's shop without intending to search the shop and without any suspicion of Hennessy's conduct. The officer noticed cash sticking out of an envelope on the shop counter. The officer took the envelope and opened it in violation of Hennessy's Fourth Amendment rights. Inside the envelope, the officer found lottery tickets, which suggested Hennessy's involvement in an illegal gambling scheme. The officer tipped off a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. Based on the agent's subsequent inquiries, a federal grand jury questioned Hennessy and Ralph Ceccolini (defendant) about the gambling scheme. Ceccolini denied his involvement in the scheme. Hennessy willingly testified and contradicted Ceccolini's testimony. Based on Hennessy's testimony, the United States (plaintiff) charged Ceccolini with lying to the grand jury. A judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found Ceccolini guilty of perjury, but then voided the conviction. The judge ruled Hennessy's testimony inadmissible as the fruit a poisonous tree: the government was able to identify Hennessy as a key prosecution witness only because the police officer unconstitutionally uncovered Hennessy's involvement in the gambling scheme. The government appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which affirmed the judge's reversal of Ceccolini's conviction. The government then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)
Concurrence (Burger, C.J.)
Dissent (Marshall, J.)
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