Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Fairchild

decided: November 25, 1975.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division No. 74 CR 538 FRANK J. McGARR, Judge

Swygert and Stevens, Circuit Judges, and Kunzig, Judge.*fn*

Author: Stevens

STEVENS, Circuit Judge.

Appellant contends that his conviction for distributing counterfeit bills*fn1 should be reversed because (1) the delay of 27 months between his arrest and trial violated his right to a speedy trial; and (2) evidence seized during a search incident to a warrantless arrest should have been suppressed because the arresting officers had ample time to obtain a warrant. He also questions the sufficiency of the evidence and the admissibility of the testimony of the witness Lee.


The defendant was arrested on November 24, 1972, the indictment was returned on July 25, 1974, and his trial began on February 24, 1975. This delay of 27 months is long enough to require consideration of the other factors identified in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 33 L. Ed. 2d 101, 92 S. Ct. 2182 (1972).*fn2

The Government's explanation for the delay of 20 months between arrest and indictment was that it was attempting to find others who were involved in the counterfeiting operation in order to try them with Fairchild. The Government also explained that before proceeding against Fairchild it wanted to complete the trial of an important witness whose testimony might have been unavailable had he been tried with Fairchild. These reasons are sufficient to foreclose any claim that the pre-indictment delay was designed by the Government to prejudice Fairchild's defense. See United States v. Ricketson, 498 F.2d 367, 371 (7th Cir. 1974).

Neither of the two remaining factors - the defendant's assertion of his right and possible prejudice caused by the delay - lends any support to defendant's claim. He has made no showing of actual prejudice to his defense, other than a vague allegation that his memory was impaired. And defendant made little effort to have his case tried sooner. Although at some point after the indictment (the record is not clear as to the exact date) a speedy trial motion was filed, this motion was later withdrawn by defendant's counsel who said there was "nothing urgent" about the case. Thus, the defendant simply has not shown enough prejudice to tip the Barker v. Wingo balance. Compare United States v. De Tienne, 468 F.2d 151 (7th Cir. 1972), cert. denied 410 U.S. 911, 93 S. Ct. 974, 35 L. Ed. 2d 274 (no actual prejudice), with United States v. Macino, 486 F.2d 750 (7th Cir. 1973) (one witness died and memories were demonstrably impaired).*fn3


Defendant's second asserted ground for reversal is the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence which was found in a search of his car at the time of his arrest. Defendant does not question the fact that the search was proper if the arrest was valid; nor does he challenge the existence of probable cause to arrest him. Rather, he contends that since the agents were in possession of ample information to justify the issuance of a warrant at least three days earlier and failed to offer any valid reason for not obtaining a warrant, the warrantless arrest was a violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment.*fn4

In the absence of "a few specifically established and well delineated exceptions," a warrantless search is a violation of the Fourth Amendment even when based on probable cause. See Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 455, 29 L. Ed. 2d 564, 91 S. Ct. 2022. The question squarely raised by this appeal is whether warrantless arrests should likewise be treated as presumptively invalid. Prior to the decision by the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Watson, 504 F.2d 849 (1974), cert. granted 420 U.S. 924, 95 S. Ct. 1117, 43 L. Ed. 2d 392 (1975), this question had been consistently answered in the negative.*fn5 Presumably it will be answered definitively by the Supreme Court in the Watson case since the Court has granted certiorari.

We have not previously been required to decide this precise question, although we have twice noted our opinion that no warrant is required when there is probable cause to arrest. See United States v. Rosselli, 506 F.2d 627, 629 n. 4 (1974); United States v. Cantu, 519 F.2d 494 (1975), slip opinion at 4, n. 5. In these circumstances it seems appropriate for us to leave to the Supreme Court the question whether a well settled rule of constitutional law should now be changed.*fn6


Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction because the testimony of the principal witness, one South, is patently incredible. The asserted incredibility stems from the fact that South testified that he purchased notes from the defendant at a price of $40 per 100 and resold them at a lower price. The record, however, contains an explanation of this testimony which the jury was entitled to credit. South's testimony indicates that he had not previously passed any counterfeit bills and made the decision to sell them at a loss because he was afraid to try to pass them. Although defendant makes a ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.