United States v. Ambrose
108 U.S. 336 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Ambrose, 108 U.S. 336 (1883)

United States v. Ambrose

Decided April 23, 1883

108 U.S. 336

Syllabus

§ 5392 Rev.Stat. enacts that

"Every person who, having taken an oath before a competent . . . person in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered . . . that any written . . . declaration, . . , or certificate by him subscribed is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury."

On an indictment against a clerk of a circuit and district court for perjury in swearing before a district judge to his emolument returns, and an account for services rendered to the United States,

Held:

1. That the words "declaration" and "certificate," as employed in this section of the Revised Statutes, are used in the ordinary and popular sense to signify any statement of material matters of fact sworn to and subscribed by the party charged.

2. That the returns and accounts set forth in the indictments were written declarations within the meaning of § 5392 Rev.Stat.

3. That the written statement and oath of the party together constitute the declaration or certificate of the statute for the falsity of which a party is chargeable with perjury.

4. That the authority of the district judge to administer the oath, not having been certified from below as a question of division, cannot be considered.

Indictment for perjury. The perjury charged in the first count was the taking an oath by Ambrose before the District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio that a certain written declaration by him subscribed was true, and the declaration as set out was a statement subscribed to an account against the United States that the services charged in the account had been actually rendered. The indictment charged that they had not been rendered, and concluded with the usual allegations. The second count charged that the defendant had made a written return of fees and emoluments of his office, and had appeared before the district judge and taken and subscribed an oath, which is set forth at length, that the account is just and true. The count charged that the return was false, set forth in what

Page 108 U. S. 337

particulars it was so, and concluded with the usual allegations, averring that the paper so subscribed was a written declaration. The third count related to another return of fees and emoluments, and averred that the written oath subscribed to it was a written declaration. The fourth count related to an account for services, and the perjury was charged as consisting in a false certificate subscribed to it and sworn to before the district judge.

At the trial in the court below, before Mr. Justice Swyne and Judge Baxter, the judges disagreed and certified the questions which appear in the opinion of the Court.

Page 108 U. S. 338

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