United States v. Williams
Annotate this Case
341 U.S. 58 (1951)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Williams, 341 U.S. 58 (1951)
United States v. Williams
Argued January 8, 1951
Decided April 23, 1951
341 U.S. 58
In a prosecution for violation of what is now 18 U.S.C. § 242, arising out of the alleged beating of persons to coerce confessions, and for conspiracy against Fourteenth Amendment rights of citizens in alleged violation of what is now 18 U.S.C. § 241, appellee Williams was convicted and the other three appellees were acquitted of the substantive offenses, and the jury was unable to agree on a verdict on the conspiracy counts. Appellees were reindicted for the conspiracy and were convicted, but, on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and ordered the indictment quashed on the ground that § 241 does not embrace Fourteenth Amendment rights. An indictment of appellees under 18 U.S.C. § 1621 for perjury in the first trial, charging Williams with falsely testifying that he had not beaten the victims, and charging the other appellees with falsely testifying that they had not seen Williams beating the victims, was dismissed by the District Court.
1. The conviction of Williams on the charge of beating the victims did not bar, as double jeopardy, his prosecution for perjury in testifying falsely that he had not beaten them. P. 341 U. S. 62.
2. That the other appellees had been acquitted of the substantive offense of aiding and abetting Williams in abusing the victims did not bar, on the ground of res judicata, their subsequent prosecution for perjury in testifying that they had not seen Williams beating them. Sealfon v. United States, 332 U. S. 575, distinguished. Pp. 341 U. S. 63-65.
3. Testifying falsely in the first trial on the conspiracy charges constituted perjury under 18 U.S.C. § 1621 even though, on appeal, it was determined that the later indictment for conspiracy was defective. Pp. 341 U. S. 65-69.
(a) In the trial of the first conspiracy charges, the District Court had jurisdiction of the subject matter (an alleged violation of a federal conspiracy statute) and of the parties, and therefore was a "competent tribunal" within the requirement of the perjury statute. Pp. 341 U. S. 65-66.
(b) The circumstance that ultimately it is determined on appeal that the indictment is defective does not affect the jurisdiction of the trial court to determine the case presented by the indictment. P. 341 U. S. 66.
(c) Where the court in the proceedings in which the alleged perjury occurred had jurisdiction to render judgment on the merits in those proceedings, defects developed dehors the record or in the procedure, sufficient to invalidate any judgment on review, do not bar a conviction for perjury. Pp. 341 U. S. 67-69.
93 F.Supp. 922, reversed.
The District Court dismissed an indictment of appellees for perjury under 18 U.S.C. § 1621. 93 F.Supp. 922. On direct appeal to this Court under 18 U.S.C. § 3731, reversed, p. 341 U. S. 69.
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