United States v. Bickford, 11801.

Decision Date11 May 1948
Docket NumberNo. 11801.,11801.
Citation168 F.2d 26
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

John B. Tansil, U. S. Atty., of Billings, Mont., and Harlow Pease and Emmett C. Angland, Asst. U. S. Attys., both of Butte, Mont., for appellant.

Harrison J. Freebourn, of Butte, Mont., for appellee.

Before GARRECHT, MATHEWS, and HEALY, Circuit Judges.

HEALY, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from an order dismissing a criminal proceeding for insufficiency of the indictment to state a public offense.

The indictment undertook to charge the crime of perjury as defined in § 125 of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C.A. § 231. The language of the charge needful to be considered is as follows: "The defendant Mina Bickford, on or about October 22, 1945, at Butte, in the District of Montana and within the jurisdiction of this court, in the District Court of the United States for the District of Montana then and there engaged in the trial of a criminal cause entitled `United States of America vs. Charles Howard Downey' wherein said Downey was charged with the crime of violation of the White Slave Traffic Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 397 et seq., after having taken an oath as a witness before the said District Court which was administered by the Clerk of said Court that she would testify truly, did wilfully, corruptly, falsely and feloniously and contrary to said oath testify to certain matters which were material to the issues of the cause then on trial, to-wit:" Then follows a detailed statement of the particulars of the alleged false swearing.

The ruling below was predicated on 18 U.S.C.A. § 558, which reads: "In every presentment or indictment prosecuted against any person for perjury, it shall be sufficient to set forth the substance of the offense charged upon the defendant, and by what court, and before whom the oath was taken, averring such court or person to have competent authority to administer the same, together with the proper averment to falsify the matter wherein the perjury is assigned, without setting forth the bill, answer, information, indictment, declaration, or any part of any record or proceeding, either in law or equity, or any affidavit, deposition, or certificate, other than as hereinbefore stated, and without setting forth the commission or authority of the court or person before whom the perjury was committed."1 The court held the indictment fatally defective because it did not directly aver that the officer administering the oath had competent authority to administer the same.

We think the ruling was error. The statute, assuming it to be presently controlling, does not prescribe the precise language in which the averment of authority is to be couched. The requirement would seem to be substantially satisfied if the conclusion necessarily follows from the averments made that the officer administering the oath was in fact possessed of the requisite authority. Authority in this instance was implicit in the facts pleaded,2 and there was no need to spell it out further. The court takes judicial notice of the powers of its clerk.

But in any event, the statute, insofar as it may be thought to conflict with the recently adopted Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, must be regarded as having been superseded by the rules.3 Rule 7(c), 18 U.S.C.A. following section 687, relating to indictments generally, provides that "the indictment or the information shall be a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. * * * It need not contain a formal...

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14 cases
  • U.S. v. Noah
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • April 11, 1979
    ...to eliminate outmoded technicalities. United States v. Debrow, 346 U.S. 374, 376, 74 S.Ct. 113, 98 L.Ed. 92 (1953); United States v. Bickford, 168 F.2d 26, 27 (CA9 1948). Not only did counsel for appellants fail to make an objection, 3 they failed to ask the court to recall the jury and ins......
  • Young v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • April 8, 1954
    ...thus complies with Rule 7(c), and that compliance sustains it. See Fed.R.Crim.P. 1; 18 U.S.C. § 687 (1946)*; United States v. Bickford, 9 Cir., 1948, 168 F.2d 26. Appellant also attacks the indictment on the basis of the selection of the grand jury panel. The jury commissioners excluded fro......
  • Wright v. United States, 13024.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • April 8, 1957
    ...but also to be protected from a second prosecution for the same act or acts. Ross v. United States, 6 Cir., 180 F.2d 160; United States v. Bickford, 9 Cir., 168 F.2d 26. He was entitled to know what particular paragraph or paragraphs of Section 5821 he was charged with violating and the fac......
  • United States v. Schneider
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • March 28, 1956
    ...of the opinion that the description in the indictment is adequate and sufficient under the ruling of this court in United States v. Bickford, 9 Cir., 168 F.2d 26, 27-28." The defendant was in error when he argued in the criminal prosecution that the indictment failed to adequately describe ......
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