Jencks v. United States, No. 23

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRENNAN
Citation1 L.Ed.2d 1103,353 U.S. 657,77 S.Ct. 1007
Docket NumberNo. 23
Decision Date03 June 1957
PartiesClinton E. JENCKS, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America

353 U.S. 657
77 S.Ct. 1007
1 L.Ed.2d 1103
Clinton E. JENCKS, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES of America.

No. 23.
Argued Oct. 17, 1956.
Decided June 3, 1957.

Mr.

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John T. McTernan, Los Angeles, Cal., for petitioner.

Mr. John V. Lindsay, New York City, for respondent.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

On April 28, 1950, the petitioner, as president of Amalgamated Bayard District Union, Local 890, International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers, filed an 'Affidavit of Non-Communist Union Officer' with the National Labor Relations Board, pursuant to § 9(h) of the National Labor Relations Act.1 He has been convicted under a two-count indictment charging that he

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violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001, 18 U.S.C.A. § 10012 by falsely swearing in that affidavit that he was not on April 28, 1950, a member of the Communist Party or affiliated with such Party. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the conviction, 3 and also an order of the District Court denying the petitioner's motion for a new trial.4 This Court granted certiorari.5

Two alleged trial errors are presented for our review. Harvey F. Matusow and J. W. Ford, the Government's principal witnesses, were Communist Party members paid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation contemporaneously to make oral or written reports of Communist Party activities in which they participated. They made such reports to the F.B.I. of activities allegedly participated in by the petitioner, about which they testified at the trial. Error is asserted in the denial by the trial judge of the petitioner's motions to direct the Government to produce these reports for inspection and use in cross-examining Matusow and Ford. Error is also alleged in the instructions given to the jury on membership, affiliation, and the credibility of informers.6

Former Party members testified that they and the petitioner, as members of the Communist Party of New Mexico, had been expressly instructed to conceal their membership and not to carry membership cards. They also testified that the Party kept no membership records or minutes of membership meetings, and that such meetings were secretly arranged and clandestinely held. One of the witnesses said that special care was taken to conceal the Party membership of members, like the peti-

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tioner, 'occupying strategic and important positions in labor unions and other organizations where public knowledge of their membership to non-Communists would jeopardize their position in the organization.' Accordingly, the Government did not attempt to prove the petitioner's alleged membership in the Communist Party on April 28, 1950, with any direct admissions by the petitioner of membership, by proof of his compliance with Party membership requirements, or that his name appeared upon a membership roster, or that he carried a membership card.

The evidence relied upon by the Government was entirely circumstantial. It consisted of testimony of conduct of the petitioner from early 1946 through October 15, 1949, and of Matusow's testimony concerning alleged conversations between him and the petitioner at a vacation ranch in July or August 1950, and concerning a lecture delivered by the petitioner at the ranch. The Government also attached probative weight to the action of the petitioner in executing and filing an Affidavit of Non-Communist Union Officer on October 15, 1949, because of the events surrounding the filing of that affidavit. The Government bridged the gap between October 15, 1949, and July or August 1950 with the testimony of Ford that, during that period, the Party took no disciplinary action against the petitioner for defection or deviation, and did not replace the petitioner in the Party office which Ford testified the petitioner held as a member of the Party State Board.

The first alleged Party activity of the petitioner preceded his union employment. A witness, who was a Party member in the spring of 1946, testified that, at that time, he and the petitioner were present at a closed Party meeting at the home of the Party chairman for Colorado, where the petitioner, a veteran of World War II, led in urging that veterans who were Party members spread out

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into several veterans' organizations and not all join the same one, the better to further Party work.

Later in 1946 the petitioner was employed by the International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers as business agent for several local unions in the Silver City-Bayard, New Mexico, area. It was testified that one of the petitioner's first acts was to meet with the International Union's then Regional Director for the Southwest, a Communist Party member, and with the Communist Party organizer for the area, to develop plans for organizing a Party group within each of those locals, which later merged to form Amalgamated Local 890 under the petitioner's presidency.

J. W. Ford was a member of the Communist Party of New Mexico from 1946 to September 1950 and, from 1948, was a member of the State Board and a Party security officer. He said that in 1948 he became a paid undercover agent for the F.B.I.7 and reported regularly upon Party activities and meetings. He testified that the petitioner was also a Party and a State Board member, and he related in detail occurrences at five closed Party meetings which he said the petitioner attended.

At the first meeting, in August 1948, Ford said the Party members worked out a plan to support the petitioner's candidacy for Congress on the ticket of the Progressive Party. At the second meeting, in February 1949, Ford said that the petitioner and other Communist Party members were appointed delegates to a meeting of the Mexican-American Association in Phoenix, Arizona, to further a Party plan to infiltrate that organization and to use it for the Party's purposes. At the third meeting, in April 1949, Ford said that the Party's state organiza-

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tion was completed, and the petitioner was appointed to the State Board and the Party leader in the southern half of the State. At the fourth meeting, in May 1949, Ford said that the petitioner gave a progress report upon his success in recruiting Party members among labor groups, and offered to use Local 890's newspaper, 'The Union Worker,' which he edited, to support issues of Party interest. At the fifth meeting, in August 1949, Ford said that preparations were made for another meeting later in that month of the Mexican-American Association in Albuquerque, and that the delegates, including the petitioner, were instructed to give vigorous support to the meeting but to take care not to make themselves conspicuous in the proceedings.

Ford's duties as a Party security officer were to keep watch on all Party members and to report 'any particular defections from the Communist philosophy or any peculiar actions, statements or associations, which would endanger the security of the Communist Party of the state.' If any defection reported by a security officer were considered important, the member 'would be called in and would be either severely reprimanded or criticized, or disciplined. If he refused to accept such discipline he would either be suspended or expelled.' Ford testified that, between August 1949 and September 1950, when Ford ceased his activities with the New Mexico Party, there was no disciplinary action taken against the petitioner and, to his knowledge, the petitioner was not replaced in his position on the State Board of the Communist Party.

The events leading up to the petitioner's execution and filing, on October 15, 1949, of an Affidavit of Non-Communist Union Officer were testified to by a former International Union representative, a Communist Party member during 1947 to 1949. He said that, about 17

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months before, in May or June 1948, a meeting of Party members, holding offices in locals of the International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers, was held in Denver to formulate plans for combatting a movement, led by non-Communists, to secede from the International Union. He said that the Party members, including the petitioner, were informed of Party policy not to sign affidavits required by § 9(h) of the then recently enacted Taft-Hartley Act. There was no testimony that that policy changed before October 15, 1949.

The affidavit was filed shortly before a C.I.O. convention was scheduled to expel the Mine-Mill International and other unions from its membership. After filing the affidavit, the petitioner and other Local 890 officers published an article in 'The Union Worker' charging that the contemplated C.I.O. action was part of a program of 'right-wing unions * * * gobbling up chunks of militant unions. * * * Our International Union and its officers have swallowed a lot of guff, a lot of insults. But that is not the point. * * * Now that our Union has signed the phony affidavits we can defend ourselves * * * in case of raids. We do not fear attack from that quarter any longer.'

Matusow was a member of the Communist Party of New York and was a paid undercover agent for the F.B.I. before he went to New Mexico.8 In July or August 1950, he spent a 10-day vacation on a ranch near Taos, New Mexico, with the petitioner and a number of other people. He testified to several conversations with the petitioner there. He said he twice told the petitioner of his desire to transfer his membership from the New York to the New Mexico Party, and that on both occa-

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sions the petitioner applauded the idea and told him, 'we can use you out here, we need more active Party members.' On one of these occasions, Matusow said, the petitioner asked him for suggestions for a lecture the petitioner was preparing for delivery at the ranch, particularly as to what the New York Communists were doing about the Stockholm Peace Appeal. Matusow described to the petitioner a 'do-day' program adopted in New York when...

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1008 practice notes
  • State v. Stump, No. 50605
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 15, 1963
    ...an obvious 'fishing expedition.' Our examination discloses no error. Defendant cites, among other authorities, Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d The significance and impact of the Jencks case on our law is considered in State v. Kelly, 249 Iowa 1219, 1221, 1222......
  • People v. Szabo, No. 52626
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • January 24, 1983
    ...would in fact be useful for impeachment; only the defense should be permitted to make that determination. (Jencks v. United States (1957), 353 U.S. 657, 667-69, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1012-14, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103, 1111-13.) When the State resists disclosure, asserting that the statement or a portion the......
  • United States v. Harmon, No. CR 10–1760 JB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • May 10, 2012
    ...may not, however, embark on a “broad or blind fishing expedition among documents possessed by the Government.” Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 667, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103 (1957) (quoting Gordon v. United States, 344 U.S. 414, 419, 73 S.Ct. 369, 97 L.Ed. 447 (1953)). Rule 16(a)......
  • Barbour v. People
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • November 18, 1994
    ...be turned over to defendant for use in cross-examination, where such statements relate to the witness' testimony (Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103; 18 U.S.C. § Several federal circuit courts have expressly held that the Jencks Act is applicable to adminis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1008 cases
  • State v. Stump, No. 50605
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 15, 1963
    ...an obvious 'fishing expedition.' Our examination discloses no error. Defendant cites, among other authorities, Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d The significance and impact of the Jencks case on our law is considered in State v. Kelly, 249 Iowa 1219, 1221, 1222......
  • People v. Szabo, No. 52626
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • January 24, 1983
    ...would in fact be useful for impeachment; only the defense should be permitted to make that determination. (Jencks v. United States (1957), 353 U.S. 657, 667-69, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1012-14, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103, 1111-13.) When the State resists disclosure, asserting that the statement or a portion the......
  • United States v. Harmon, No. CR 10–1760 JB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • May 10, 2012
    ...may not, however, embark on a “broad or blind fishing expedition among documents possessed by the Government.” Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 667, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103 (1957) (quoting Gordon v. United States, 344 U.S. 414, 419, 73 S.Ct. 369, 97 L.Ed. 447 (1953)). Rule 16(a)......
  • Barbour v. People
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • November 18, 1994
    ...be turned over to defendant for use in cross-examination, where such statements relate to the witness' testimony (Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 77 S.Ct. 1007, 1 L.Ed.2d 1103; 18 U.S.C. § Several federal circuit courts have expressly held that the Jencks Act is applicable to adminis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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