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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Willie Israel Alderman
United States
No. 11, Ivanov v. United States
No. 197, Butenko v. United States
(Solicitor General, Department of Justice, reargued the cause for the United States in No. 133 and argued the cause for the United States in Nos. 11 and 197)
(reargued for the petitioners in No. 133 and argued the cause for the petitioner in No. 11)
(by appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the petitioner in No. 197)
Facts of the Case 

The petitioners were convicted of illegally passing national defense information to the Soviet Union; their cases were affirmed on appeal. The Supreme Court denied certiorari. In a petition for rehearing, the petitioners claimed that the government had relied on illegally obtained eavesdropping evidence to convict. The Court granted a rehearing and in a per curiam opinion vacated the appellate court judgment and remanded the case to the federal trial court for a rehearing.

The United States sought to modify the Supreme Court's order, urging that the eavesdropping evidence should be reviewed in camera by the trial judge who would then transmit only relevant evidence to the parties. The petitioners argued their opposition to the motion in the 1967 Term. The matter was reargued in the 1968 Term.


(1) Do the petitioners have standing to object to surveillance evidence without prior screening in camera?

(2) Must evidence be excluded from trial if the government unlawfully overheard the petitioners' conversations or conversations occurring on the petitioners' premises, even if they were not present, or did not participate in, the conversations?

Decision: 5 votes for Alderman, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

Yes and Yes. In a majority opinion speaking for himself and four other members of the Court, Justice Byron R. White held that "conversations as well as property are excludable from the criminal trial when they are found to be the fruits of an illegal invasion of the home." Moreover, continued White, "surveillance records as to which any petitioner has standing to object should be turned over to him without being screened in camera by the trial judge.

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ALDERMAN v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <>.
ALDERMAN v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited December 12, 2014).
"ALDERMAN v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014,