8 F.2d 429 (N.D.Ga. 1925), 8153, United States v. Wray

Docket Nº:8153.
Citation:8 F.2d 429
Party Name:UNITED STATES v. WRAY et al.
Case Date:October 30, 1925
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Northern District of Georgia

Page 429

8 F.2d 429 (N.D.Ga. 1925)



WRAY et al.

No. 8153.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia.

October 30, 1925

John M. Johnson, Asst. U.S. Atty., of Atlanta, Ga.

Paul L. Lindsay, of Atlanta, Ga., for defendants.

SIBLEY, District Judge.

The evidence shows that Russell, the prohibition agent, by pretending to be a dealer in illicit whisky, induced the defendants to make several considerable sales to him, one defendant being a white man of means who conducted the

Page 430

business and the other a negro who made the deliveries. The indictment is for a conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Law (Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1923, Sec. 10138 1/4 et seq.), and alleges that the two defendants conspired with one another, and also with Russell, to this end. A directed verdict of not guilty is moved on two grounds: (1) That there has been an unlawful entrapment of the defendants; and (2) that the misdemeanor of selling whisky cannot be aggravated into a felony by charging a conspiracy with a representative of the government.

1. The first point is not well taken. Much confusion of thought has been occasioned by the use of the word 'entrapment' in this contention. Whenever an officer of the law, by any plan or contrivance, or opportunity presented, causes a person to commit a crime in which he is detected, the officer entraps the criminal. It may also be said that the particular offense would not have been committed except for the act of the officer. Nevertheless, it is well settled, when it is suspected that a crime is being committed and the question is as to who the guilty persons are, that traps may be laid and baited as by decoy letters, by opportunity to sell whisky or morphine, in order to catch the guilty person. On the other hand, officers of the United States may not induce persons, who would not otherwise have committed crime, to violate the laws and then prosecute for it. A sound public policy and a decent fairness forbid it. It is not, therefore, properly speaking, the entrapment of a criminal that the law frowns down, but the seduction by its officers to commit crime. A suspected person may be tested by being offered opportunity to transgress in such manner as is usual therein, but may not be put under extraordinary temptation or inducement. Thus a morphine peddler usually deals with addicts. An officer, in testing a supposed peddler, may properly...

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