On this day in 1973:
Los Angeles, May 11, 1973 — Citing what he called “improper Government conduct shielded so long from public view,” the judge in the Pentagon papers trial dismissed today all charges against Dr. Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony J. Russo Jr
After 89 days of Ellsberg and Russo standing trial charged with espionage theft and conspiracy, Federal Judge Byrne declared a mistrial and dismissed the case.
His verdict was the result of Federal Agents (remember the White House “Plumbers”?) breaking into Ellsberg’s office to gather evidence (no warrant), also the gathering of telephone voice recordings collected during 1969-1970 (no warrant).
The prosecution could produce no Government record of wiretap authorization, the original voice transcripts, or the authority to break into Ellsberg’s office in pursuit of evidence (search warrant problems for the whole case). Apparently several Federal Agencies and Agents were involved in the investigation, none of which could produce any original evidence or authority for search.
The mistrial and dismissal did not mean the defendants were innocent. It just meant the Judge could not tolerate the lack of respect for the citizen’s Bill of Rights.
Investigators face the same challenges today, 33 years later. If you don’t get a warrant as soon as you have the “suspect” under suspicion, you might waste a lot of time.