United States v. Murdock, No. 88

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtROBERTS
Citation78 L.Ed. 381,54 S.Ct. 223,290 U.S. 389
Decision Date11 December 1933
Docket NumberNo. 88
PartiesUNITED STATES v. MURDOCK

290 U.S. 389
54 S.Ct. 223
78 L.Ed. 381
UNITED STATES

v.

MURDOCK.

No. 88.
Argued Nov. 6, 1933.
Decided Dec. 11, 1933.

[Syllabus from 390 intentionally omitted]

Page 390

The Attorney General and Mr. J. Crawford Biggs, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D.C., for the United States.

Mr. Harold J. Bandy, of Granite City, Ill., for respondent.

Page 391

Mr. Justice ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case is here for the second time.

The respondent was indicted for refusal to give testimony and supply information as to deductions claimed in his 1927 and 1928 income tax returns for moneys paid to others. By a special plea he averred that he ought not to be prosecuted under the indictment because, if he had answered the questions put to him, he would have given information tending to incriminate him, in contravention of the Fifth Amendment. The United States demurred on the grounds that the plea failed to show that the information demanded would have incriminated or subjected the defendant to prosecution under federal law, and that the defendant waived his privilege under the Fifth Amendment. The demurrer was overruled. Upon appeal this court reversed the judgment for the reason that at the hearing before the federal revenue agent the defendant had not invoked the protection of the Fifth Amendment against possible prosecution under federal legislation but solely under state laws. The cause was remanded to the District Court for further proceedings. United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 52 S.Ct. 63, 76 L.Ed. 210, 82 A.L.R. 1376.

The petitioner pleaded not guilty, was put upon trial, and convicted. He appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the judgment,1 and the case was brought here by writ of certiorari.2 The question presented is whether the trial court correctly instructed the jury as to what constitutes a violation of the sections of the Revenue Acts of 1926 and 1928 upon which the indictment was based.

Section 256 of the Revenue Act of 1926 and section 148 of the Revenue Act of 1928, in identical words, require all

Page 392

persons making payment to another to make a true and accurate return to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, under such regulations as he shall prescribe, setting forth the amount paid and the name and address of the recipient.3 Section 1104 of the Revenue Act of 1926 and section 618 of the Revenue Act of 1928 authorize the Commissioner, for the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of any return, or of making a return where none has been made, through officers or employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, to examine books, papers, records, and memoranda bearing upon the matters required to be included in the return, and to compel the attendance of the taxpayer or any one having knowledge of the premises, and to take testimony with reference to the matter directed by law to be included in the return, with power to administer oaths to the persons to be interrogated.4

Section 1114(a) of the Revenue Act of 1926 declares:5

'Any person required under this title to pay any tax, or required by law or regulations made under authority thereof to make a return, keep any records, or supply any information, for the purposes of the computation, assessment, or collection of any tax imposed by this title, who willfully fails to pay such tax, make such return, keep such records, or supply such information, at the time or times required by law or regulations, shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.'

Section 146(a) of the Revenue Act of 1928 is identical with the quoted section of the 1926 act.6 The indictment

Page 393

in two counts charged violation of the provisions of the two sections last mentioned.

Upon the trial the government proved the respondent had been duly summoned to appear before a revenue agent for examination; questions had been put to him; he refused to answer, stating he feared self-incrimination; and upon further inquiry disclosed that his fear was based upon possible prosecutions under state statutes. The government also offered evidence that on a prior occasion at a meeting with certain revenue agents the respondent had refused to disclose the name of the payee of the sums deducted by him in his returns for 1927 and 1928. To this counsel for the respondent objected, on the ground that it was irrelevant to the issue, which was the respondent's refusal to answer when summoned, sworn, and interrogated. The prosecuting attorney replied that the willfulness of the respondent's refusal to answer was in issue, and that the proposed evidence bore upon that matter. The court overruled the objection and admitted the testimony. The respondent offered no evidence. In the course of his charge the trial judge said:

'So far as the facts are concerned in this case, Gentlemen of the Jury, I want to instruct you that whatever the Court may say as to the facts, is only the Court's view. You are at liberty to entirely disregard it. The Court feels from the evidence in this case, that the Government has sustained the burden cast upon it by the law and has proved that this defendant is guilty in manner and form as charged beyond a reasonable doubt.'

The respondent's request for an instruction in the following words was refused:

'If you believe that the reasons stated by the defendant in his refusal to answer questions were given in good faith and based upon his actual belief, you should consider that in determining whether or not his refusal to answer the questions was wilful.'

Page 394

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545 practice notes
  • Townsend v. United States, No. 6928.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • February 7, 1938
    ...may be default of appearance, and also default of attendance. This was undoubtedly the view of the court in United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 397, 54 S.Ct. 223, 226, 78 L.Ed. 381 (relied upon by appellant) when it stated: "Two distinct offenses are described in the disjunctive, and in......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...'specifically reserved in Vajtauer v. Commr. of Immigration,' and was not 'definitely settled' until 1931. United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 396, 54 S.Ct. 223, 226, 78 L.Ed. 381. In 1931, the Court decided United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 52 S.Ct. 63, 76 L.Ed. 210, the case pri......
  • Koyen v. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc., No. 82 Civ. 1258.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 24, 1983
    ...(3d Cir.1980). 23 Spies v. United States, 317 U.S. 492, 497, 63 S.Ct. 364, 367, 87 L.Ed. 418 (1943) (citing United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394-96, 54 S.Ct. 223, 225-26, 78 L.Ed. 381 (1933)). See also United States v. Benjamin, 328 F.2d 854, 862 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 377 U.S. 953......
  • United States v. Williamson, No. CR 11-2784 JB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 20, 2013
    ...definition of the word "willfully." See, e.g., United States v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10, 12 . . . (1976); United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 . . . (1933), overruled in part by Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52, 70 . . . (1964). Usually, however, the vary......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
539 cases
  • Townsend v. United States, No. 6928.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • February 7, 1938
    ...may be default of appearance, and also default of attendance. This was undoubtedly the view of the court in United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 397, 54 S.Ct. 223, 226, 78 L.Ed. 381 (relied upon by appellant) when it stated: "Two distinct offenses are described in the disjunctive, and in......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...'specifically reserved in Vajtauer v. Commr. of Immigration,' and was not 'definitely settled' until 1931. United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 396, 54 S.Ct. 223, 226, 78 L.Ed. 381. In 1931, the Court decided United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 52 S.Ct. 63, 76 L.Ed. 210, the case pri......
  • Koyen v. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc., No. 82 Civ. 1258.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 24, 1983
    ...(3d Cir.1980). 23 Spies v. United States, 317 U.S. 492, 497, 63 S.Ct. 364, 367, 87 L.Ed. 418 (1943) (citing United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394-96, 54 S.Ct. 223, 225-26, 78 L.Ed. 381 (1933)). See also United States v. Benjamin, 328 F.2d 854, 862 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 377 U.S. 953......
  • United States v. Williamson, No. CR 11-2784 JB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 20, 2013
    ...definition of the word "willfully." See, e.g., United States v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10, 12 . . . (1976); United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 . . . (1933), overruled in part by Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52, 70 . . . (1964). Usually, however, the vary......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 books & journal articles
  • 16 Patent Portfolio Budgeting
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-4, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...WBIP , 829 F.3d at 1341 n.13, and Eko , 946 F.3d at 1378, with Halo , 136 S. Ct. at 1933 and n.*. See also United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S......
  • 20 How Corporations Buy and Sell Patents to Implement Patent Strategy
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-4, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...WBIP , 829 F.3d at 1341 n.13, and Eko , 946 F.3d at 1378, with Halo , 136 S. Ct. at 1933 and n.*. See also United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S......
  • Cultural Identities and Territoriality in a Global Marketplace
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-4, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...WBIP , 829 F.3d at 1341 n.13, and Eko , 946 F.3d at 1378, with Halo , 136 S. Ct. at 1933 and n.*. See also United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S......
  • Value and Risk Considerations for Intellectual Property Collateral
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-4, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...WBIP , 829 F.3d at 1341 n.13, and Eko , 946 F.3d at 1378, with Halo , 136 S. Ct. at 1933 and n.*. See also United States v. Murdock, 290 U.S. 389, 394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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