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Case Basics
Docket No. 
United States
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the United States)
Facts of the Case 

At the conclusion of an undercover drug investigation, Richard Russell was arrested by Washington police and eventually convicted in a district court for drug manufacturing crimes. Russell challenged his conviction as the result of unconstitutional entrapment practices, since an undercover agent supplied him with an essential ingredient of his drug manufacturing operation. On appeal from an adverse Court of Appeals decision, the Supreme Court granted the government certiorari.


Does an undercover law enforcement officer's participation in criminal conduct constitute entrapment in violation of the Fifth Amendment's due process protections?

Decision: 5 votes for United States, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

Not always. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that law enforcement officers may participate in the procedural commission of certain crimes such as drug manufacturing, so long as they do not implant criminal designs in the minds of the accused. In Russell's case, the investigated drug operations were in place long before undercover agents infiltrated them. Moreover, the ingredients contributed by the agents could have been acquired independently by Russell and his co-conspirators. As such, none of the agents' participatory activities amounted to entrapment.

Cite this Page
UNITED STATES v. RUSSELL. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 03 June 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1585>.
UNITED STATES v. RUSSELL, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1585 (last visited June 3, 2015).
"UNITED STATES v. RUSSELL," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 3, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1585.