Cramer v. United States - 325 U.S. 1 (1945)


U.S. Supreme Court

Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S. 1 (1945)

Cramer v. United States

No. 13

Argued March 9, 1944

Reargued November 6, 1944

Decided April 23, 1945

325 U.S. 1

Syllabus

1. In a prosecution upon an indictment charging treason by adhering to enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort, in violation of § 1 of the Criminal Code, the overt act relied on, of which the Constitution requires proof by two witnesses, must be at least an act of the accused sufficient, in its setting, to sustain a finding that the accused actually gave aid and comfort to the enemy. P. 325 U. S. 34.

2. The protection of the two-witness rule of the Constitution in such case extends at least to all acts of the defendant which are used to draw incriminating inferences that aid and comfort have been given. P. 325 U. S. 33.

3. In a prosecution upon an indictment charging treason by adhering to enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort, in violation of § 1 of the Criminal Code, two of the overt acts alleged and relied on were:

"1. Anthony Cramer, the defendant herein, on or about June 23, 1942, at the Southern District of New York and within the jurisdiction of this Court, did meet with Werner Thiel and Edward John Kerling, enemies of the United States, at the Twin Oaks Inn at Lexington Avenue and 44th Street, in the City and New York, and did confer, treat, and counsel with said Werner Thiel

Page 325 U. S. 2

and Edward John Kerling for a period of time for the purpose of giving and with intent to give aid and comfort to said enemies, Werner Thiel and Edward John Kerling."

"2. Anthony Cramer, the defendant herein, on or about June 23, 1942, at the Southern District of New York and within the jurisdiction of this Court, did accompany, confer, treat, and counsel with Werner Thiel, an enemy of the United States, for a period of time at the Twin Oaks Inn at Lexington Avenue and 44th Street, and at Thompson's Cafeteria on 42nd Street between Lexington and Vanderbilt Avenues, both in the City and New York, for the purpose of giving and with intent to give aid and comfort to said enemy, Werner Thiel."

By direct testimony of two or more witnesses, it was established that Cramer met Thiel and Kerling on the occasions and at the places charged; that they drank together, and that they engaged long and earnestly in conversation. There was no proof by two witnesses of what they said, or in what language they conversed; no showing that Cramer gave them any information whatever of value to their mission, or that he had any to give; no showing of any effort at secrecy, they having met in public places, and no evidence that Cramer furnished them shelter, sustenance, or supplies, or that he gave them encouragement or counsel, or even paid for their drinks.

Held: that overt acts 1 and 2 as proved were insufficient to support a finding that the accused had given aid and comfort to the enemy, and therefore insufficient to support a judgment of conviction. Pp. 325 U. S. 36-37, 325 U. S. 48.

137 F.2d 888 reversed.

Certiorari, 320 U.S. 730, to review the affirmance of a judgment of conviction of treason.

Page 325 U. S. 3



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