149 F.2d 31 (7th Cir. 1945), 7500, United States v. Johnson

Docket Nº:7500, 7501.
Citation:149 F.2d 31
Party Name:UNITED STATES v. JOHNSON. Same v. SOMMERS et al.
Case Date:May 02, 1945
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 31

149 F.2d 31 (7th Cir. 1945)






SOMMERS et al.

Nos. 7500, 7501.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

May 2, 1945

Page 32

Homer Cummings and William J. Dempsey, both of Washington, D.C., and Harold R. Schradzke, of Chicago, Ill., for appellants.

J. Albert Woll and Earle C. Hurley, U.S. Attorney, both of Chicago, Ill., for appellee.

Before SPARKS, MAJOR and MINTON, Circuit Judges.

MAJOR, Circuit Judge.

On October 23, 1940, the District Court entered judgment against the defendants upon a jury's verdict which had found them guilty of income tax evasions for the years 1936 through 1939. The defendants appealed to this court, which reversed the conviction. United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 123 F.2d 111. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed this court. United States v. Johnson, 319 U.S. 503, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546.

Before the mandate of the Supreme Court issued, the defendants filed in the court a motion for a stay of mandate until they could take such steps in this court pursuant to Rule 2(3) of the Criminal Appeals Rules, 18 U.S.C.A., following section 688, as were necessary to have the case remanded to the District Court for the purpose of permitting the defendants to file a motion for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence. Upon a motion of the defendants filed in this court, we remanded the case to the District Court to consider and dispose of any motion filed under Rule 2(3) of the Criminal Appeals Rules and any motion collateral thereto, and authorized the District Court to assume jurisdiction of the causes for such purposes.

The District Court assumed jurisdiction and permitted the defendants to file their motion for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence, together with supporting affidavits and papers; and the government was given time to respond. The so-called newly discovered evidence was directed to showing that one of the government's chief witnesses, William Goldstein, had testified falsely on the original trial of the defendants. When the various pleadings had been filed, a hearing was had, and the District Court overruled the motion. From that order denying their motion for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence, the defendants appealed to this court, which affirmed the District Court. United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 142 F.2d 588. The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari.

While their petition for certiorari was pending in the Supreme Court, the defendants asked that court to consider some additional information which they contended proved conclusively that William Goldstein had testified falsely on the original trial. The Supreme Court refused to consider these new facts, because they were no part of the record, but did agree to withhold consideration of the petition for certiorari until the defendants could apply to this court for leave to reopen the proceedings on the motion for a new trial so as to present this new information.

The defendants applied to this court to reopen the proceedings on their former motion for a new trial. On November 16, 1944, this application was granted. We vacated our former order which had affirmed the District Court's denial of the defendants' original motion for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence and again remanded the case to the District Court, this time with directions to consider and dispose of the defendants' amended motion and to certify its ruling back to this court at an early date.

Upon the filing of the certified copy of our order of November 16, 1944, the District Court on its own motion ordered the defendants to file on or before December 4, 1944, their motion and supporting papers as authorized by our order, and further ordered that the United States should respond thereto on or before December 7, 1944. December 11, 1944 was set as the date for the defendants' reply and for oral arguments on the motion. Motion, response and reply were filed, a hearing was had, and on December 15, 1944, the District Court in a memorandum opinion overruled the amended motion for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence and entered judgment accordingly. The defendants' present appeal is from that judgment.

The original motion alleged that William Goldstein testified falsely at the trial in relation to the ownership of ten items of property, referred to as the "Bon Air, " the "Curran Farm, " the "Green House, " the "White House, " the "Gas Station, " the "Dells property, " "9730 Western Avenue property, " the "$10, 000 Escrow, " the "$7, 500 Escrow, " and the "Albany Park Bank Building." The proof offered in support

Page 33

of the original motion had to do with all of these ten pieces of property, while the additional proof offered in connection with the amended motion had to do only with the "Albany Park Bank Building.;'

That Goldstein's testimony was material and, if false, was highly prejudicial to the defendants, is not in dispute. The falsity of Goldstein's testimony was the essential issue presented and decided by the court below, both on the original and on the amended motion, and the correctness of those decisions is the only issue presented to this court. As stated in the government's brief filed in this court on the original motion: "It seems obvious therefore that the finding by the District Court that Goldstein did not testify falsely completely and effectively disposed of all purported justification for a new trial, and his order and the appeal therefrom presents to this Court only a question of fact, namely, did Goldstein testify falsely at the trial?"

And again it is stated in the same brief: "In short, the question presented by the defendants in the court below was: Did Goldstein tell the truth when he testified in the trial of this case? An examination of the defendants' brief discloses that basically this same question is the sole question presented to this Court. After considering all of the affidavits introduced in support of the defendants' motion for a new trial Judge Barnes found that Goldstein did tell the truth. It is patent that such a finding is a finding of fact."

In discussing the proof bearing upon the issue of falsity, it is important to have in mind the circumstances under which Goldstein testified as a government witness. It appears that the Grand Jury was engaged in an investigation of the income of the defendant Johnson and of one William Skidmore. Goldstein, who was a personal friend as well as the attorney for Skidmore, testified before the Grand Jury. In an effort to protect Skidmore, he gave certain testimony which resulted in his indictment for perjury. He and Skidmore were also indicted as co-defendants with Johnson in the instant case. On the day the case was called for trial, the charge against Goldstein and Skidmore was dismissed, and shortly thereafter Goldstein took the witness stand for the government and gave the testimony now alleged to be false. He denied on the witness stand that he had been promised immunity, but stated, "My lawyer has not told me anything about what the deal was." After the perjury indictment was returned, he furnished bond but after the trial in the instant case was released upon his own recognizance. The perjury indictment has not been tried and so far as this record discloses is still pending. Furthermore, it is shown by affidavit that in the summer of 1942 a complaint was filed with the Chicago Bar Association, the designated agent of the Supreme Court of Illinois for the determination of misconduct of attorneys. With reference to this complaint, William J. Dempsey, of counsel for Johnson, in a letter to the Attorney General under date of June 25, 1943, stated: "The complaint requested that an investigation be made of Goldstein's perjury and that appropriate action be taken. When Mr. Woll (United States District Attorney) learned that such an investigation was to be undertaken, he saw fit to request the Bar Association to defer any investigation of this matter until after the United States Supreme Court had decided the Johnson case. This investigation was deferred again at Mr. Woll's request after the Supreme Court's decision of June 7, 1943."

This statement is not denied either by the United States Attorney or by any official of the Chicago Bar Association.

All of the proof in support of and in opposition to the motion and the amended motion is in the form of affidavits and documents. Much of it, as far as we can ascertain, is immaterial to the issue. In our consideration, we shall attempt to confine our discussion to that which we think is relevant. We shall first consider the testimony of Goldstein with reference to the "Albany Park Bank Building" for the reason that all of the proof offered in support of the amended motion concerns Goldstein's testimony relative to this property. In our opinion, the government makes an ill advised attempt to escape defendants' contention that Goldstein testified that Johnson was the owner of the properties in question but embraced nothing more than the bar fact that in the purchase of the various properties involved the money for such purchases was received from Johnson. Especially is this true in light of the fact that the cornerstone of the government's case was that Johnson was the owner. Based largely on Goldstein's testimony, the government has succeeded in convincing the jury and court after court that such was the case.

Page 34

Concerning the Albany Park Bank Building, Goldstein testified: "I was requested by Mr. Johnson to go out there and purchase the (Albany Park Bank) building for him. * * I purchased that property at the request of Mr. Johnson. * * Title to that property was taken in the name of Ted W. Goldstein, my son. Subsequently there was a quit claim deed delivered to Mr. William R. Johnson...

To continue reading