United States v. Johnson, No. 7500

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtEVANS, SPARKS, and MAJOR, Circuit
Citation123 F.2d 111
Decision Date06 November 1941
Docket Number7501.,No. 7500
PartiesUNITED STATES v. JOHNSON. SAME v. SOMMERS et al.

123 F.2d 111 (1941)

UNITED STATES
v.
JOHNSON.

SAME
v.
SOMMERS et al.

Nos. 7500, 7501.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

September 15, 1941.

Rehearing Denied November 6, 1941.


123 F.2d 112
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Floyd E. Thompson, of Chicago, Ill., for appellant Johnson

John Elliott Byrne, Edward J. Hess, and George Callaghan, all of Chicago, Ill., for appellants Sommers and others.

J. Albert Woll, U. S. Atty., and Earle C. Hurley, Paul M. Plunkett, Lawrence J. Miller, and Edward J. Ryan, Asst. U. S. Attys., all of Chicago, Ill., for appellee.

Before EVANS, SPARKS, and MAJOR, Circuit Judges.

MAJOR, Circuit Judge.

These appeals are from a judgment, entered on the verdict of a jury, finding the defendants guilty of a wilful attempt to evade the payment of income taxes, and of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The appellant in No. 7500 is William R. Johnson, and the appellants in No. 7501 (sometimes herein referred to as "co-defendants") are Jack Sommers, James A. Hartigan, John M. Flanagan, William P. Kelly and Stuart Solomon Brown. The indictment contains five counts, the first four of which charge Johnson with evasion of income taxes for the years 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939, and are predicated upon Section 145(b), 26 U.S.C.A. Int.Rev.Code. As to the offenses alleged in these counts, the co-defendants (appellants in No. 7501) are charged as aiders and abettors. The fifth count charges all defendants with a conspiracy to defraud the United States of income taxes. 18 U.S.C.A. § 88.

In addition to the appellants in No. 7501, a number of others were charged as aiders and abettors. As to such others, the charge was nolle prossed as to William R. Skidmore, William Goldstein, Orrie Alexander and Bernice Downey. A verdict of not guilty was returned as to Andrew J. Creighton, Edward Wait and Reginald E. MacKay.

The trial commenced August 17, 1940, and the verdict of the jury was returned October 12, 1940. As might be expected in a trial of this duration, many complicated and difficult questions, both legal and factual, were presented. Many errors are here assigned which it is contended require a reversal of the judgment. After a lengthy and careful consideration of the voluminous record and briefs, we have reached the conclusion that the contention must be sustained. It would be impractical to consider all the errors assigned or contentions made by the respective parties, and we shall, therefore, discuss only those which we regard as of controlling importance.

The contested issues revolve largely around: (1) The denial of certain preliminary motions, (2) that the verdict of the jury is not supported by substantial, competent evidence, (3) the admission of improper evidence, (4) the improper examination and cross-examination of witnesses, (5) the improper and prejudicial remarks of the prosecutors, and (6) the denial by the court to include in its charge to the jury certain requests made by the defendants.

At the threshold of our consideration, we are confronted with the troublesome question arising from the court's denial of certain preliminary motions, pleas and demurrers invoked by the defendants. On May 16, 1940, there was filed on behalf of the defendant Johnson, what was entitled a motion to quash the indictment, and on the same date there was filed on behalf of the other defendants what was entitled a plea in abatement in the nature of a motion to quash. Both the motion and the

123 F.2d 117
plea attacked for substantially the same reasons, the legality of the Grand Jury which returned the indictment. The defendants also filed a motion for rule on the Government to reply to such plea and motion, which was by the court denied. The Government filed a motion to strike the motion and plea as being insufficient in law, which motion was allowed

The attack upon the Grand Jury was upon the ground that it was without jurisdiction for the reason that the indictment was returned at a term of court subsequent to that at which it had been originally empaneled, without compliance with the Statute in that respect.

The Grand Jury was empaneled for the December, 1939, Term.1 This term continued until the first Monday in February; the February Term until the first Monday in March, and the March Term until the first Monday in April. The indictment was returned March 29, 1940, during the March Term.

On January 24, 1940, during the December, 1939, Term, the Grand Jury was authorized, by order entered on that date, to sit during the February, 1940, Term to finish investigations begun but not finished at the December Term. No question is raised but that this was a valid order and that the Grand Jury was legally continued from the December to the February Term.

The motion by Johnson to quash (the same may be said of the plea in abatement on behalf of other defendants) alleged that the indictment, returned at the March Term in the year 1940, was without warrant or authority of law for the reason that an order entered February 28, 1940, purporting to authorize the continuance of the Grand Jury from the February to the March Term was void. This order, as alleged in the motion, is as follows:

"Now comes the Second December Term 1939 Grand Jury for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, by Dorothy W. Binder, Forewoman, and in open Court requests that an order be entered authorizing them, the said Second December, 1939 Grand Jury, heretofore authorized to sit during the February 1940 Term of this Court, to continue to sit during the Term of Court succeeding the said February Term of Court, to-wit, the March 1940 Term of Court, to finish investigations begun but not finished by said Grand Jury during the said December 1939 and the said February 1940 Terms of this Court, and which said investigations cannot be finished during the said February 1940 Term of Court; and the Court being fully advised in the premises,

"It Is Therefore Ordered That the Second December 1939 Grand Jury, now sitting in this Division and District, be, and it is hereby authorized to continue to sit during the March 1940 Term of Court for the purpose of finishing said investigations."

This order, so it was alleged, was predicated upon a petition of the Grand Jury filed February 28, 1940, praying for a continuance order "* * * to finish investigations begun but not finished by said Grand Jury during the said December 1939 and the said February 1940 Term of this Court, and which said investigations cannot be finished during the said February 1940 Term of said Court."

The motion to quash as to the first, second and third counts of the indictment alleged that on March 1, 1940, the same Grand Jury returned an indictment against the defendant Johnson, charging the same crimes, matters and violations as are contained in the first, second and third counts of the instant indictment, and that — "* * * the matters contained in the first, second and third counts of the present and instant indictment were finished and concluded at the February 1940 Term of the said Grand Jury; * * *."

As to counts four and five, it was alleged that "no investigation of said matters was begun at the December 1939 Term," and "the investigation of said matters was first begun at said March 1940 Term of Court." It is the contention of the defendants that the order of continuance was not in compliance with Section 421, 28 U.S.C.A. This provision, so far as now material, provides: "* * * A district judge may, upon request of the district attorney or of the grand jury or on his own motion, by order authorize any grand jury to continue to sit during the term succeeding the term at which such request is made, solely to finish investigations begun but not finished by such grand

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jury, but no grand jury shall be permitted to sit in all during more than three terms. * * *"

No question is raised by the Government but that compliance with this provision is essential in order to give a Grand Jury vitality subsequent to the term at which it is originally empaneled. Moreover, in view of the fact that all inferior courts of the United States are of limited jurisdiction and possess only such power and authority as are expressly conferred, no question could well be raised in this respect. As was said in Re Mills, Petitioner, 135 U.S. 263, 267, 10 S.Ct. 762, 763, 34 L.Ed. 107: "* * * A grand jury, by which presentments or indictments may be made for offenses against the United States is a creature of statute. It cannot be impaneled by a court of the United States by virtue simply of its organization as a judicial tribunal. * * *"

If a court is without authority to empanel a Grand Jury except as the same is expressly conferred by Statute, it would seem to follow inevitably that a Grand Jury empaneled could only have its authority or power continued to a subsequent term by strict compliance with the statutory provision. The language of the provision plainly limits the authority of the court to continue a Grand Jury to sit "during the term succeeding the term at which the request is made," and with equal clarity limits the continuance "solely to finish investigations begun but not finished by such grand jury."

It is contended by the defendants that the order of February 28, 1940, authorized the December Grand Jury to finish investigations begun during the February, 1940, Term when, under the statute, the court had the power only to authorize it to finish investigations begun at the December Term. The Government disputes that the order of the court can be thus construed, but does not argue the question. The language "to finish investigations begun but not finished by said Grand Jury during the said December 1939 and the said February 1940 Terms of this court" leaves no room for argument but that the March Grand Jury was...

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34 practice notes
  • United States v. Shorter, Crim. No. 84-00421.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 26, 1985
    ...See United States v. Smith, 335 F.2d 898 (7th Cir.1964); Norwitt v. United States, 195 F.2d 127 (9th Cir.1952); United States v. Johnson, 123 F.2d 111, 119 (7th Cir.1941), rev'd, 319 U.S. 503, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546 (1943); United States v. Sullivan, 98 F.2d 79, 80 (2d 9 Indeed, becau......
  • United States v. Stoehr, No. 12000 C. D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • September 5, 1951
    ...is a separate offense for each year. United States v. Sullivan, 2 Cir., 1938, 98 F.2d 79, at page 80; United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 123 F. 2d 111, at page 119, reversed on other grounds in United States v. Johnson, 319 U.S. 503, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546; Vol. 10 Mertens Op. Cit. sup......
  • United States v. Anthony, Cr. No. 12662.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • September 14, 1956
    ...either before or after the fact committed.'" (Italics supplied.) Judge Evans, dissenting in United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 1941, 123 F.2d 111, at page 135, expressed some doubt speaking of double punishment and suggesting that the two offenses merged, but see Id., 1943, 319 U. S. 503, at......
  • U.S. v. Fein, No. 1121
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • October 15, 1974
    ...5. In that case, the Seventh Circuit reversed a number of convictions because the indictments had been returned by an invalid grand jury. 123 F.2d 111 (1941). Section 421 allowed a grand jury to be extended into a succeeding term by order of a court, but the jury could only consider during ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • United States v. Shorter, Crim. No. 84-00421.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 26, 1985
    ...See United States v. Smith, 335 F.2d 898 (7th Cir.1964); Norwitt v. United States, 195 F.2d 127 (9th Cir.1952); United States v. Johnson, 123 F.2d 111, 119 (7th Cir.1941), rev'd, 319 U.S. 503, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546 (1943); United States v. Sullivan, 98 F.2d 79, 80 (2d 9 Indeed, becau......
  • United States v. Stoehr, No. 12000 C. D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • September 5, 1951
    ...is a separate offense for each year. United States v. Sullivan, 2 Cir., 1938, 98 F.2d 79, at page 80; United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 123 F. 2d 111, at page 119, reversed on other grounds in United States v. Johnson, 319 U.S. 503, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546; Vol. 10 Mertens Op. Cit. sup......
  • United States v. Anthony, Cr. No. 12662.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • September 14, 1956
    ...either before or after the fact committed.'" (Italics supplied.) Judge Evans, dissenting in United States v. Johnson, 7 Cir., 1941, 123 F.2d 111, at page 135, expressed some doubt speaking of double punishment and suggesting that the two offenses merged, but see Id., 1943, 319 U. S. 503, at......
  • U.S. v. Fein, No. 1121
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • October 15, 1974
    ...5. In that case, the Seventh Circuit reversed a number of convictions because the indictments had been returned by an invalid grand jury. 123 F.2d 111 (1941). Section 421 allowed a grand jury to be extended into a succeeding term by order of a court, but the jury could only consider during ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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