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UNITED STATES v. HINTON

March 25, 1958

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Robert F. HINTON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: YOUNGDAHL

The defendant was arrested on the morning of August 8, 1957. He was driving his automobile and had stopped for a red light when the police officers motioned him over to the curb and told him to stop his car. He did so. He was placed under arrest. Pursuant to the arrest he was searched and three capsules of heroin were found on his person.

Defendant moved at the trial to suppress the evidence of heroin. He urged that there was no probable cause for this arrest and, therefore, the subsequent search and seizure was unreasonable. The Court denied the motion.

 Counsel now has moved for a new trial or, in the alternative, for a judgment of acquittal. Counsel's motion is based upon the argument that the capsules found upon the defendant should not have been introduced into evidence since the arrest was illegal.

 As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has recently said in dealing with an arrest similar to this one: 'The question is what constituted probable cause in the eyes of a reasonable, cautious and prudent peace officer under the circumstances of the moment.' *fn1" The circumstances in this case are as follows:

 The police had observed personally, and through an informer (Charles Harden) were notified of the activities of Davis and those associated with him. Their reports, as introduced into evidence, go back to the middle of December, 1956.

 December 19, 1956: The informer, Charles Harden, through Forest McAbee, bought narcotics from Davis. The informer later gave one of those capsules to the defendant, Robert F. Hinton.

 December 20, 1956: Bureau of Narcotics agents observed Davis and the defendant leave 2529 11th Street at 3:50 a.m. and get into Forest McAbee's Pontiac. At 4:20 a.m. the agents observed the car return to the area. Davis and Hinton went into 2529 11th Street. Informer later told the agents that when Davis re-entered the house, he had cocaine on his person. The informer bought narcotics from Davis at that time.

 December 22, 1956: Harden, at the request of the police, telephoned Davis and asked to buy narcotics from him. During the conversation, Davis mentioned that he had spent the afternoon in the company of McAbee, 'Ironjaws' and 'Lips'. The defendant's nickname was known to the police to be 'Lips'.

 December 27, 1956: The informer asked where he could find Davis. Harden was told by the defendant to go to Odessa Madre's address. The police had information that Davis was supplying cocaine which was used and illegally sold at Odessa Madre's house. Odessa Madre had been previously convicted of narcotics and was known to be involved with the narcotics traffic.

 January 5, 1957: The informer bought narcotics from Jerry McCutcheon in the presence of the defendant.

 Shortly after this, Harden, the informer, was mentioned in the trial of another case. He was thereby discovered and no longer able to provide information.

 Commencing in February or March of 1957, the police obtained information that a group had formed which included Davis, the defendant, 'Streamy' Washington -- formerly convicted for narcotics violation -- and others, which called itself 'The Wasters'. The police information, which was later corroborated in part by Cornelius Parker, one of the group who was arrested for violation of the narcotics laws, was that the group would meet at one another's homes for the purpose of using narcotics illicitly. The defendant admitted that he was a member of the group for three or four months but denied the above purpose of the organization. The group was known to exist until August 4, 1957.

 The government also introduced Pearl Woodward, a former girl friend of the defendant, who admitted that she and the ...


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