Lamar v. United States,
241 U.S. 103 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lamar v. United States, 241 U.S. 103 (1916)

Lamar v. United States

No. 895

Argued April 4, 1916

Decided May 1, 1916

241 U.S. 103


The circuit court of appeals has no power to compel a party, who has prosecuted both a direct appeal from this Court under § 238, Judicial Code, and a writ of error from the circuit court of appeals, to elect which method he will pursue, and, in default of his withdrawing the direct appeal, to dismiss the writ of error.

While the general rule, when this Court reverses a decision of the circuit court of appeals wholly on the question of its jurisdiction, is to remand the case to that court without passing upon the merits, this Court has the power to, and, in exceptional cases such as the present, will, determine the merits.

While a penal provision may not be enlarged by interpretation, it must not be so narrowed as to fail to give full effect to its plain terms, as made manifest by its text and context.

A member of the House of Representatives is an officer of the United States within the meaning of § 32 of the Penal Code.

Section 32 of the Penal Code prohibits and punishes the false assuming, with the intention to defraud, to be an officer or employee of the United States, and also the doing in the falsely assumed character of any overt act to carry out the fraudulent intent whether it would have been legally authorized had the assumed capacity existed or not.

The indictment in this case clearly charges the fraudulent intent under § 32 of the Penal Code, and is sufficient under § 1025, Revised Statutes.

There was proof in this case of intent to defraud, and to establish

Page 241 U. S. 104

criminality under § 32, Penal Code, and there was no error in refusing an instruction to acquit and in submitting the case to the jury.

There was no lack of jurisdiction of this case in the district court because the trial was presided over by a judge of a different district assigned to the court for trial conformably to the act of October 3, 1913, c. 18, 38 Stat. 203.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court, and of the circuit court of appeals, the construction of § 32 of the Penal Code, and the power of assignment of a judge of one district to preside over the district court of another district under the Act of October 3, 1913, are stated in the opinion.

Page 241 U. S. 107

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