Kansas wiretap orders “not insufficient”: USSC

The United States Supreme Court ruled that wiretap orders issued by a Kansas judge for investigation of a drug distribution ring were not lacking any information that the statute required them and hence were not facially insufficient.

“Because the Orders were not lacking any information that the statute required them to include and would have been sufficient ab­sent the challenged language authorizing interception outside the court’s territorial jurisdiction, the Orders were not facially insuffi­cient”, a unanimous Court said.

Petitioners asked the Court to suppress entire evidence (not just evidence obtained from outside the jurisdiction) obtained through wiretap orders due to the orders explicitly allowing interception of communication outside the jurisdiction of the Kansas judge. Government did not use any information that was obtained from outside the jurisdiction at trial.

The Court said that it cannot fully endorse the petitioners in­terpretation of the statute (Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act). Clearly statute covers at least an order’s failure to include information required by §§2518(4)(a)–(e), but that does not mean that every defect that may conceivably appear in an order results in an insufficiency. “Here, the sentence authorizing intercep­tion outside Kansas is surplus. Its presence is not connected to any other relevant part of the orders”, the Court explained.


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