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HENDRICKS v. UNITED STATES.

decided: February 19, 1912.

HENDRICKS
v.
UNITED STATES.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON.

Author: White

[ 223 U.S. Page 180]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The plaintiff in error, upon a conviction and sentence for subornation of perjury, in violation of ยง 5393, Revised Statutes, prosecutes this writ of error upon the theory that a question of constitutional right was involved, arising upon a claim made in the court below that the indictment was repugnant to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. On the assumption that there was jurisdiction to entertain the writ, counsel also in argument assailed as erroneous certain rulings of the trial court "admitting evidence and instructions given and refused in the course of the trial."

The indictment consisted of two counts -- the first charging the subornation of one George W. Hawk, and the second the subornation of one Clyde Brown, to commit perjury in giving the testimony before a Federal grand jury.

[ 223 U.S. Page 181]

     As, however, on the trial the Government elected to rely upon the charge of the subornation of Hawk, we are concerned alone with the first count. The sufficiency of this count was assailed by demurrer, it being alleged "That the said count of said indictment and the matters and facts therein contained, in manner and form as the same are stated, are not sufficient in law and are not sufficient to constitute a crime and are not direct and certain." The protection of the Constitution was not, however, invoked until after conviction, when a motion to arrest judgment was made, "based upon the ground that the indictment in this case does not charge a crime, and is insufficient and does not sufficiently describe the offense, 'And does not inform the defendant of the nature and cause of the accusation,' against him and is in violation of and insufficient under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

The portions of the indictment which relate to the particular matter which was under investigation before the grand jury, or which refer to the materiality of the alleged testimony, and which it is claimed exhibits the repugnancy of the indictment to the Sixth Amendment, is contained in the excerpt, which is in the margin,*fn1 the italics being

[ 223 U.S. Page 182]

     those of counsel, who assert that the italicized portion "is the portion bearing upon the question."

It is urged that the indictment did not sufficiently set

[ 223 U.S. Page 183]

     forth "the nature and cause of the accusation" within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment, because it did not "set forth in some definite way the matter or thing which was under investigation at the particular time, so that the defendant may know as to what particular controversy the alleged false testimony is claimed to be material, and how to meet the allegation of materiality." It is claimed "that the indictment, in order to be sufficient, should have stated the particular matter which was being investigated by the grand jury at the time, and to which it was claimed the alleged false testimony was material;" and that if the alleged false testimony concerning Hawk's final proof upon his land "became material collaterally in some other later matter, of which the grand jury did have jurisdiction . . . the collateral matter should have been set forth, and the indictment should have alleged that it was material in relation to that matter, so that the defendant could have an opportunity to intelligently defend as to the materiality of the alleged evidence as well as to other elements of the offense."

Reduced to their final analysis the contentions but assert that the indictment did not apprise the accused of the crime charged with such reasonable certainty that he could make his defense and be protected after judgment against another prosecution for the same offense. We are of opinion, however, that the principles settled by many prior ...


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