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United States v. Havens

United States Supreme Court
 446 U.S. 620 (1980)


Havens (defendant) and John McLeroth took a flight from Peru to Miami, Florida. In Miami, customs agents searched McLeroth and found cocaine in makeshift pockets on his t-shirt. McLeroth implicated Havens and both men were arrested. The agents searched Havens’ luggage without a warrant and found a t-shirt with missing pieces of cloth that matched the pieces sewn onto McLeroth’s t-shirt. The t-shirt found in Havens’ luggage was suppressed at trial as fruit of an illegal search. McLeroth testified at trial that Havens gave him the t-shirt and had sewn the makeshift pockets shut. Havens testified in his own defense and denied being involved with smuggling the cocaine. On cross-examination, Havens denied having the t-shirt with missing pieces of cloth in his luggage and denied telling an agent that the t-shirts found in his luggage were McLeroth’s. The government rebutted this by having an agent testify that the t-shirt with missing pieces of cloth was found in Havens’ luggage and that Havens stated that the t-shirts found in his luggage all belonged to McLeroth. The t-shirt with missing pieces of cloth was then put into evidence and the jury was instructed that it should only consider that evidence for impeaching Havens’ credibility. Havens was convicted of cocaine smuggling. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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