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United States v. Yeager

decided: June 22, 1970.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. DAVID GUY BALDWIN PRISON NO. 42980, APPELLANT,
v.
HOWARD YEAGER, PRINCIPAL KEEPER, NEW JERSEY STATE PRISON, TRENTON



Kalodner and Van Dusen, Circuit Judges, and Fullam, District Judge.

Author: Van Dusen

Opinion OF THE COURT

VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from the District Court order of April 29, 1969, denying relator's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

Relator was convicted, after trial to a jury, of first decree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.*fn1 Richard Cordine testified that relator had made certain incriminating statements to him, after indictment and without the presence of counsel, while relator was in jail awaiting trial. The introduction of this testimony at trial forms the basis of this appeal.*fn2

After his arrest and indictment for murder in October 1964, relator was placed in the isolation area of the Ocean County jail. Cordine, awaiting trial on an assault and battery charge, was in an adjoining cell. According to Cordine's testimony on voir dire,*fn3 relator and Cordine had almost daily conversations for a period of two months. In January 1965, Cordine was sent to a diagnostic center, apparently because of an emotional problem. At this center he was interviewed by two detectives investigating relator's case.*fn4 Cordine was at first reluctant to disclose any information, but then reconsidered and told the detectives what he had learned from relator before the interview. No promises were made by the detectives in return for this information. The detectives asked Cordine to keep them informed of any further conversations. When Cordine returned to the Ocean County jail, he was placed in a cell with relator, and he talked with relator with a view toward getting information for the prosecution.*fn5 At extensive interviews held in April 1965, the prosecutor agreed that if Cordine testified against relator, Cordine would be allowed to serve a previously imposed two to four year sentence in a prison other than Trenton, where relator had numerous friends.

On the basis of the voir dire, the trial judge ruled that any statements made by relator to Cordine after his return from the diagnostic center were inadmissible, because after the interview the prosecution had placed Cordine in the cell with relator and Cordine had "deliberately questioned [relator] for the purpose of giving the information to the Prosecutor." However, the judge allowed Cordine to testify to inculpatory statements made by relator prior to Cordine's interview by the detectives.*fn6

On this appeal, relator argues that any post-indictment statements made without the presence of counsel are inadmissible, even if those statements are made to persons in no way connected with the Government, if testimony concerning those statements is deliberately elicited by the prosecution from the witness to whom they were made.*fn7 We do not read Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201, 84 S. Ct. 1199, 12 L. Ed. 2d 246 (1964), as requiring such a holding.*fn8 While Massiah has been clarified by subsequent opinions to exclude all post-indictment statements made to government agents absent proof of effective waiver of counsel,*fn9 the Constitution does not require the exclusion of post-indictment statements voluntarily given by the defendant to persons in no way related to the Government, regardless of how those statements are later discovered by the prosecution. See United States ex rel. Milani v. Pate, 425 F.2d 6 (7th Cir., 4/2/70); Paroutian v. United States, 370 F.2d 631 (2nd Cir. 1967); Stowers v. United States, 351 F.2d 301 (9th Cir. 1965). Under the facts of this case, the introduction of Cordine's testimony did not violate relator's constitutional rights.*fn10

The relator's remaining contentions are rejected, in accordance with the thorough analysis in Judge Whipple's excellent opinion.*fn11

The District Court order of April 29, 1969, ...


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