United States v. McConney

Decision Date23 March 1964
Docket NumberDocket 28599.,No. 308,308
Citation329 F.2d 467
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Norman Rowe McCONNEY, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

James W. Dolan, Asst. U. S. Atty. (Justin J. Mahoney, U. S. Atty., for Northern Dist. of New York, on the brief), for appellee.

Morris Zuckman, Albany, N. Y., for defendant-appellant.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and WATERMAN and MARSHALL, Circuit Judges.

MARSHALL, Circuit Judge.

Appellant was indicted, tried by jury, found guilty and sentenced for violation of the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2421. The indictment charged: "That on or about June 22, 1961, at Albany, in the State and Northern District of New York, Norman Rowe McConney, the above-named defendant, did knowingly transport in interstate commerce from Albany, New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ernestine Mitchell McConney, for the purpose of prostitution."

The first government witness, Gretchen Ferguson, stated that during the year 1961 she maintained "a house of ill fame" in Bridgeport, Connecticut which was used by one or two prostitutes at a time. She testified that on or about June 20, 1961, she received a telephone call from Ernestine McConney, but had no recollection of what was discussed, except that Ernestine had said that she wanted to come to Bridgeport. There was no evidence of where the call came from. Some days later Ernestine McConney showed up at the Ferguson's house at about one o'clock in the morning in a car driven by appellant, and bearing New York license plates. After approximately an hour appellant left in the same car.

Both Mrs. Ferguson and her husband testified that Ernestine McConney remained in the house from ten days to two weeks during which time she engaged in the business of prostitution, paying Mrs. Ferguson two dollars for each male visitor. There was also testimony that appellant visited Bridgeport on July 4th or 5th and accompanied his wife to the house of Mrs. Ferguson's mother in Stratford, Connecticut to attend a barbecue party. He spent the night with his wife in the house in Bridgeport and left the next day. He returned a few days later to pick up his wife and they both left Bridgeport. Ernestine McConney, called as a witness by the government, testified that she was the wife of appellant, that the two of them resided in Albany, New York, that she owned a Cadillac automobile registered in New York but that she did not drive a car and did not have an operator's license. An F. B. I. agent testified that appellant, after being advised of his rights, had made a statement to him denying that he had transported his wife from Albany to Bridgeport for any purpose, and that he knew Gretchen Ferguson or that he had been in Bridgeport during the past twenty years.

At the close of the government's case appellant moved unsuccessfully to dismiss the indictment for failure of proof. Appellant called only one witness, an F. B. I. agent, for questioning concerning statements made to him by the Fergusons. Both sides rested and appellant renewed his motion. After considerable discussion in chambers, Judge Foley recognized the apparent deficiency of proof of the corpus delicti — the trip from Albany to Bridgeport on the date in question for the purpose charged — but was of the opinion that the false statements to the F. B. I. agent were sufficient to submit the case to the jury. We disagree.

It is not disputed that the "victim" voluntarily engaged fully in the business of prostitution at the Ferguson's establishment. This was the sole concern of the State of Connecticut. Conn. Gen.Stat. § 53-226 (1958). Mrs. Ferguson freely admitted that she was running "a house of ill fame." This also was an admitted violation of the laws of Connecticut. Conn.Gen.Stat. § 53-230 (1958). The framers of the Mann Act intended to leave these problems to the states. H.Rep.No.47, 61st Cong., 2nd Sess., 1-2, 9-11, S.Rep.No.886, 61st Cong., 2nd Sess., 11.

In order to constitute a federal offense there must be a showing that the defendant procured or induced the transportation of the female in interstate transportation with the intent of thereby effecting or achieving illicit personal relations or the other purposes prohibited by the statute:

"The penalties of Section 2 of the Act are directed at those who knowingly transport in interstate commerce `any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent and purpose to induce, entice, or compel such woman or girl to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice.\' The statute thus aims to penalize only those who use interstate commerce with a view toward accomplishing the unlawful purposes. To constitute a violation of the Act, it is essential that the interstate transportation have for its object or be the means of effecting or facilitating the proscribed activities. Hansen v. Haff, 291 U.S. 559, 563, 54 S.Ct. 494, 495, 78 L.Ed. 968 971. An intention that the women or girls shall engage in the conduct outlawed by Section 2 must be found to exist before the conclusion of the interstate journey and must be the dominant motive of such interstate movement. And the transportation must be designed to bring about such result. Without that necessary intention and motivation, immoral conduct during or following the journey is insufficient to subject the transporter to the penalties of the Act." Mortensen v. United States, 322 U.S. 369, 373-374, 64 S.Ct. 1037, 1040, 88 L.Ed. 1331 (1944).

This case fails to meet these requirements of proof. The probative value of the telephone call from Ernestine McConney to Gretchen Ferguson was nil. There was no testimony of what was said nor of where the call was from. Not only is there nothing to show that appellant even knew about the...

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23 cases
  • State v. Kasper
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • April 5, 1979
    ...defense or on the defendant taking the witness stand; it may be admitted as part of the State's case in chief. See United States v. McConney, 329 F.2d 467, 470 (2d Cir. 1964); United States v. Smolin, 182 F.2d 782, 785-86 (2d Cir. The appellant relies on State v. Jost, 127 Vt. 120, 241 A.2d......
  • Com. v. Michaud
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • December 2, 1982
    ...by independent evidence of the defendant's conduct which is inconsistent with his belief in his innocence. See United States v. McConney, 329 F.2d 467, 470 (2d Cir. 1964). See generally Wigmore, Evidence § 173 and §§ 273-291 (3d ed. 1940). In the cases cited by the majority (Commonwealth v.......
  • U.S. v. Morales
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • April 12, 1978
    ...denied, 361 U.S. 961, 80 S.Ct. 589, 4 L.Ed.2d 543 (1960); cf. United States v. Lacey, 459 F.2d 86 (2d Cir. 1972); United States v. McConney, 329 F.2d 467 (2d Cir. 1964). But they are not conclusive and cannot, alone, furnish a foundation for a verdict of As the Supreme Court stated in Hicko......
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    ...v. Lacey, 459 F.2d 86, 89 (2 Cir. 1972), this Circuit in United States v. Kearse, 444 F.2d 62 (2 Cir. 1971), and United States v. McConney, 329 F.2d 467, 470 (2 Cir. 1964), has held that falsehoods told by a defendant in the hope of extricating himself from suspicious circumstances are insu......
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