Case: United States v. Cooney

62-cr-16837 | U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Filed Date: 1962

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case involved the indictment of five defendants--two deputy sheriffs of Adams County, Colorado in their official capacity, two private detectives, and the ex-husband of the victim--by the United States of America for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 242. The federal government filed the indictment against the defendants on February 28, 1962 in the United States District Court for the District Court of Colorado. The case was assigned to District Judge Olin Hatfield Chilson. The defendants were cha…

This case involved the indictment of five defendants--two deputy sheriffs of Adams County, Colorado in their official capacity, two private detectives, and the ex-husband of the victim--by the United States of America for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 242. The federal government filed the indictment against the defendants on February 28, 1962 in the United States District Court for the District Court of Colorado. The case was assigned to District Judge Olin Hatfield Chilson. The defendants were charged with violating a private citizen's due process rights and her right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The United States alleged that the defendants, while acting under the color of state law, willfully entered and searched the citizen's home without her consent, a search warrant, or arrest warrant. Specifically, the victim alleged that her ex-husband hired private detectives that sought the help of the two deputy sheriffs charged. During the night of July 4, the five parties raided the victim's home, took pictures of the victim nude, and arrested the victim and man present with charges of fornication.

As the docket for this case is unavailable, it is not clear precisely what happened between February 27, 1962 and May 16, 1963. At some point during this time, prior to April 13, 1962, the defendants moved to dismiss the charges. On May 2, 1962, the United States Attorney on the case sought guidance from Burke Marshall, the Assistant United States Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, on the issue of whether the deputies were acting under the color of law since they were following the orders of the private detectives. Marshall suggested that it was irrelevant that the deputies were potentially following orders from private individuals so long as the deputies were acting under the color of law, because federal law had removed the distinction between a principal and accessory. See Letter to United States Attorney Lawrence M. Henry.

In their motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that the unreasonable search and seizure charge should be dismissed because, when the acts were committed, it was not yet determined that unreasonable search and seizure by a state authority was a violation of a person's constitutional rights. On May 16, 1963, the Court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the Supreme Court had established that an unreasonable search and seizure by a state authority violated a person's due process rights in 1949, over a decade before the alleged acts of the sheriffs. 217 F. Supp. 417.

The two private detectives and ex-husband also moved for dismissal on the grounds that Section 242 charges may only be brought against a state authority acting in their official capacity. The Court acknowledged that if the three parties acted only as private individuals and held no power or authority under state law, the charges should be dismissed. However, the Court stated that it would be premature to conclude these parties were not acting under the color of state law or only aided and abetted the sheriffs, and ordered a bill of particulars from the United States which would state the basis of its charges against these parties. 217 F. Supp. 417.

As the docket is unavailable, it is not clear what happened following the motion to dismiss. There does not appear to be additional published orders following the publication of 217 F. Supp. 417.

Summary Authors

Cade Boland (7/30/2018)

People


Judge(s)

Chilson, Olin Hatfield (Colorado)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Henry, Lawrence M. (Colorado)

Marshall, Burke (Connecticut)

McGruder, James P. (Colorado)

Murphy, John L. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Keller, Alex Stephen (Colorado)

Kingsley, Robert T. (Colorado)

Morgan, Wright J. Jr. (Colorado)

Judge(s)

Chilson, Olin Hatfield (Colorado)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Henry, Lawrence M. (Colorado)

Marshall, Burke (Connecticut)

McGruder, James P. (Colorado)

Murphy, John L. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Keller, Alex Stephen (Colorado)

Kingsley, Robert T. (Colorado)

Morgan, Wright J. Jr. (Colorado)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Indictment [THIS IS A DRAFT]

U.S. v. Cooney

July 4, 1961

July 4, 1961

Pleading / Motion / Brief

62-cr-16837

Letter to U.S. Attorney Lawrence M. Henry and Grand Jury Charges

U.S. v. Cooney

Feb. 1, 1962

Feb. 1, 1962

Internal memorandum

Case Summary

U.S. v. Cooney

No Court

Feb. 1, 1962

Feb. 1, 1962

Other

62-cr-16837

Civil Rights Division- Criminal Case

U.S. v. Cooney

Feb. 27, 1962

Feb. 27, 1962

Other

62-cr-16837

Department of Justice Routing Slip

U.S. v. Cooney

Feb. 28, 1962

Feb. 28, 1962

Internal memorandum

Letter to U.S. Attorney Lawrence M. Henry

U.S. v. Cooney

No Court

April 30, 1962

April 30, 1962

Internal memorandum

Letter to United States Attorney Lawrence M. Henry

U.S. v. Cooney

No Court

June 15, 1962

June 15, 1962

Internal memorandum

62-cr-16837

Opinion

U.S. v. Cooney

217 F.Supp. 417

May 16, 1963

May 16, 1963

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 7, 2022, 3:14 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Colorado

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1962

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The United States of America

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Deputy Sheriffs of Adams County (Adams), County

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Criminal Violation of Federal Rights Under Color of Law, 18 U.S.C. § 242

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Unknown

Nature of Relief:

Unknown

Source of Relief:

Unknown

Issues

General:

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