1. An experimental approach through a third person to the
corruption of a juror is enough to constitute an "endeavor" within
Crim.Code, § 135. P. 255 U. S.
2. The term "endeavor" in this section is not subject to the
technical limitations of "attempt," but embraces any effort or
essay to accomplish the evil purpose that the section was enacted
to prevent. Id.
3. The section applies where the juror has been summoned to
attend the session at which the trial in view is to be held, but
has not been selected or sworn. Id.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Page 255 U. S. 140
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.
Review of an indictment in two counts for violation of § 135 of
the Criminal Code of the United States which provides as
"Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, shall endeavor to
influence, intimidate, or impede any witness, in any court of the
United States or before any United States commissioner or officer
acting as such commissioner, or any grand or petit juror, or
officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may
be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United
States commissioner or officer acting as such commissioner, in the
discharge of his duty, or who corruptly or by threats or force, or
by any threatening letter or communication, shall influence,
obstruct, or impede, or endeavor to influence, obstruct, or impede,
the due administration of justice therein, shall be fined not more
than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than one year, or
Page 255 U. S. 141
The government does not press the case on count two. It is only
necessary, therefore, to consider count one. It charges defendant
with unlawfully and corruptly endeavoring to influence one William
D. Russell, who, he well knew, was a petit juror in the court in
the discharge of his, the juror's duty, and who he knew had been
summoned as a petit juror on April 3, 1918 at which time the trial
of William D. Haywood and others was to begin. The manner of the
execution of the violation of the section the indictment details as
"Endeavoring to ascertain in advance of the examination of said
William D. Russell in said court as to his qualifications to sit as
a petit juror at said trial whether said William D. Russell was
favorably inclined towards said William D. Haywood and his
codefendants, and corruptly to induce said William D. Russell to
favor the acquittal of said William D. Haywood and his codefendants
in case he should be selected as a petit juror at said trial, said
L. C. Russell, on said April 1, 1918, called at the home of said
William D. Russell at No. 604 West Thirty-First street, in said
City of Chicago, and engaged Lucy Russell, wife of said William D.
Russell, in a conversation, in the course of which said L. C.
Russell told said Lucy Russell that he represented said William D.
Haywood and his codefendants and requested her to question her
husband as to his attitude towards said William D. Maywood and his
codefendants in the matter of the charges contained in said
indictment and report the result of such questioning to him, the
said L. C. Russell, because, as said L. C. Russell then and there
stated to said Lucy Russell, they (meaning said William D. Haywood
and his codefendants) did not want to pay money to any of the petit
jurors sitting at the trial of said case unless they knew such
petit jurors would favor their acquittal, by means of which request
and statement said L. C. Russell conveyed to Lucy Russell, and
endeavored to convey to said William
Page 255 U. S. 142
D. Russell, an offer to pay money to said William D. Russell in
return for his favoring such acquittal. . . ."
Defendant demurred to the indictment on the ground that it did
not appear therefrom by any sufficient averment or recital of
"jurisdictional facts that any cause involving any issue of fact
triable by a jury was, at the time in said indictment mentioned,
pending in the district court of the United States, or any other
court, whereby the above named United States district court does or
could acquire jurisdiction in the premises."
The enumeration of the deficiencies of the indictment may be
summarized as follows: it did not appear that William D. Russeli
possessed the qualifications to act as a juror, or had been duly
and regularly drawn and summoned; or had been examined and accepted
as a juror at the array; it cannot be ascertained at what time and
place the alleged conversation was had, or at what time Lucy
Russell received the impression of the meaning of the conversation,
or that she had access to her husband or had opportunity, or could
have communicated the conversation to him; or that defendant knew
she had such opportunity, or that William D. Russell was a juror in
any particular case.
The demurrer was sustained and the indictment dismissed. This
writ of error was then allowed.
Necessarily, the first impression of the case is that defendant
had some purpose in his approach to Lucy Russell and in the
proposition he made to her. What was it, and how far did he execute
it? Counsel admits that defendant's purpose was to "find out what
his [L. C. Russell's] attitude was towards the defendants to be
tried," and that this (we are stating the effect of counsel's
contention) was only in preparation of a sinister purpose, that the
defendants in the case did not wish to undertake, or, to use the
language of the indictment, did
Page 255 U. S. 143
not "want to pay money to any of the petit jourors sitting at
the trial of said case unless they knew such petit jurors would
favor their acquittal," and this, counsel says, "only amounted to a
solicitation of a third person who did not accept or act in
furtherance of such solicitation," and
"could be interpreted only . . . to be preparation
[italics counsel's] for an 'endeavor' or 'attempt' to influence the
juror, but falls far short of an actual endeavor to do so."
Counsel enters into quite a discussion, with citation of cases,
of the distinction between preparations for an attempt and the
attempt itself, and charges that there is a wide difference between
We think, however, that neither the contention nor the cases are
pertinent to the section under review and upon which the indictment
was based. The word of the section is "endeavor," and, by using it,
the section got rid of the technicalities which might be urged as
besetting the word "attempt," and it describes any effort or essay
to do or accomplish the evil purpose that the section was enacted
to prevent. Criminality does not get rid of its evil quality by the
precautions it takes against consequences, personal or pecuniary.
It is a somewhat novel excuse to urge that Russell's action was not
criminal because he was cautious enough to consider its cost and be
sure of its success. The section, however, is not directed at
success in corrupting a juror, but at the "endeavor" to do so.
Experimental approaches to the corruption of a juror are the
"endeavor" of the section. Guilt is incurred by the trial --
success may aggravate; it is not a condition of it.
The indictment charges that defendant knew that William D.
Russell was a petit juror in the discharge of his duty as such
juror, and therefore an endeavor to corruptly influence him was
within the section, though he was not yet selected or sworn.
State v. Woodson,
Page 255 U. S. 144
La.Ann. 905, 9 South. 903. The court, hence, erred in sustaining
the demurrer and dismissing the indictment.
Judgment reversed, and cause remanded for further
proceedings in conformity with this opinion.