These registrants under the Universal Military Training and
Service Act were classified as conscientious objectors and were
ordered by their local draft boards to report for civilian work at
state hospitals located in judicial districts other than those in
which they resided and were registered and where their orders were
issued. They refused to report for work at the places designated,
and each was indicted for a violation of § 12(a) of the Act.
the venue for their trials was in the judicial
districts where the civilian work was to be performed, not in the
judicial districts in which they resided and where their orders
were issued. Pp. 351 U. S.
(a) The general rule is that, where the crime charged is a
failure to do a legally required act, the place fixed for its
performance determines the situs of the crime. P. 351 U. S.
(b) The possibility that registrants might be ordered to report
to points remote from the situs of draft boards neither allows nor
requires judicial changes in the law of venue. P. 351 U. S.
(c) The venue requirements of Article III of the Constitution
and the Sixth Amendment state the public policy that fixes the
situs of a trial in the vicinage of the crime, rather than where
the accused is a resident, and a variation from that rule for the
convenience of the prosecution or the accused is not justified. Pp.
351 U. S.
227 F.2d 745 affirmed. 229 F.2d 257 reversed.
Page 351 U. S. 216
MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
These two cases concern the prosecution of three defendants for
violations of the provisions of the Universal Military Training and
Service Act. 50 U.S.C.App. § 451 et seq.
We must determine
the proper venue for the trial of these crimes.
Defendants Johnston and Sokol resided in the Western Judicial
District of Pennsylvania and registered there with the local draft
boards. Both were classified 1-O (conscientious objectors) and both
were ordered to report to the boards for assignment of civilian
work in lieu of induction. They were instructed to report to
separate state hospitals situated in the Eastern Judicial District
of Pennsylvania. They reported to the boards, but personally
refused to comply with the instructions. They were indicted in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the indictments were
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on the ground that venue could
only be in the Western District. 131 F. Supp. 955. The Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, and remanded the case for
trial. That court reasoned that venue was where the defendants
failed to report. 227 F.2d 745.
Defendant Patteson, likewise classified 1-O, was ordered to
report to his local board in Oklahoma for similar assignment. He,
too, reported to the board, and there personally refused to comply
with instructions to report at the Topeka, Kansas, State Hospital.
After indictment in Kansas, the Kansas District Court ordered the
case transferred to Oklahoma under Rule 21(b), Fed.Rules
Page 351 U. S. 217
Crim.Proc. [Footnote 1
Oklahoma court retransferred the case to Kansas, as it thought the
venue was there. The Kansas court thereupon dismissed the
indictment on the ground that the venue was in Oklahoma. United
States v. Patteson,
132 F. Supp. 67. The judgment was affirmed
by the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 229 F.2d 257.
Each registrant received an order, the pertinent parts of which
"SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM"
"ORDER TO REPORT FOR CIVILIAN WORK"
AND STATEMENT OF EMPLOYER
"You are ordered to report to the local board named above at ___
m. on the ___ day of _____, 195_, where you will be given
instructions to proceed to the place of employment."
"You are ordered to report for employment pursuant to the
instructions of the local board, to remain in employment for
twenty-four (24) consecutive months or until such time as you are
released or transferred by proper authority."
"You will be instructed as to your duties at the place of
"Failure to report at the hour and on the day named in this
order, or to proceed to the place of employment pursuant to
instructions or to remain in this employment
Page 351 U. S. 218
the specified time will constitute a violation of the Universal
Military Training and Service Act, as amended, which is punishable
by fine or imprisonment or both."
(Clerk or Member of the Local Board)
"* * * *"
"STATEMENT OF EMPLOYER"
"* * * *"
"Failed to report"
Personal Director [Footnote
None of the registrants entered the district of his indictment
after receiving his orders.
The indictment in each case charges the registrant, a
conscientious objector, [Footnote
] with violation of § 12(a) of the Act. [Footnote 4
] In the Johnston indictment, the
pertinent language is:
". . . did knowingly neglect to perform a duty imposed upon him
by the provision of said Act in that
Page 351 U. S. 219
he failed and refused to obey an order of Local Board 87, New
Castle, Pennsylvania, directing him to report for employment at
Norristown State Hospital, Norristown, Pennsylvania, and to remain
employed there for twenty-four consecutive months in violation of
Title 50 U.S.C.Appx., Sections 456 and 462, as amended."
In the Sokol case it is:
". . . did knowingly neglect to perform a duty . . . in that he
failed to report to the Philadelphia State Hospital, . . . for
assignment to perform civilian work contributing to the maintenance
of the national health, safety or interest, in lieu of induction;
in violation of Title 50, Appx. Secs. 456(j) and 462."
In the Patteson case it is:
". . . did knowingly and willfully refuse, neglect and fail to
report at the Topeka State Hospital at the time and place so
designated in said order."
The question at issue in these three cases is fairly presented
by the registrants Johnston and Sokol in their petition for
certiorari. It reads thus:
"Where each petitioner resided in the Western District of
Pennsylvania, the Selective Service Local board of each was located
in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the orders to perform work
were issued in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and each
petitioner did not go beyond his local board in the Western
District of Pennsylvania and at all times refused to leave the
Western District of Pennsylvania
Page 351 U. S. 220
and did not proceed to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,
were the offenses committed in the Western District of Pennsylvania
and not in the Eastern District and, therefore, does it violate
rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution to
indict and prosecute each petitioner in the Eastern District of
Our analysis of the law and the facts in these cases convinces
us that the venue of these violations of the orders lies in the
district where the civilian work was to be performed, that is, for
Patteson in Kansas, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for
Johnston and Sokol.
We are led to this conclusion by the general rule that, where
the crime charged is a failure to do a legally required act, the
place fixed for its performance fixes the situs of the crime.
] The possibility
that registrants might be ordered to report to points remote from
the situs of draft boards neither allows nor requires judicial
changes in the law of venue. No showing of any arbitrary action
appears in these cases. Article III of the Constitution and the
Sixth Amendment fix venue "in the State" and "district wherein the
crime shall have been committed." The venue of trial is thereby
predetermined, but those provisions do not furnish guidance for
determination of the place of the crime. That place is determined
by the acts of the accused that violate a statute. This requirement
of venue states the public policy that fixes the situs of the trial
in the vicinage of the crime, rather than the
Page 351 U. S. 221
residence of the accused. Cf. United States v.
Anderson, 328 U. S. 699
328 U. S. 705
A variation from that rule for convenience of the prosecution or
the accused is not justified. The result would be delay and
confusion. [Footnote 6
This rule was followed in United States v. Johnson,
323 U. S. 273
relied on by the registrants, where a maker and shipper of dentures
mailed in Illinois was charged in Delaware, the State of receipt by
a consignee, with violating the law by "use" of the mails "for the
purpose of sending or bringing into" a State such dentures.
at 323 U. S. 274
This Court, by interpretation of the statute, restricted
prosecution of the shipper to the State of the shipment,
"It is a reasonable, and not a strained, construction to read
the statute to mean that the crime of the sender is complete when
he uses the mails in Chicago, and the crime of the unlicensed
dentist in California or Florida or Delaware, who orders the
dentures from Chicago, is committed in the State into which he
brings the dentures. As a result, the trial of the sender is
restricted to Illinois, and that of the unlicensed dentist to
Delaware or Florida or California."
at 323 U. S.
Venue for these prosecutions lies where, under § 12(a),
the registrants did
"knowingly fail or neglect or refuse to perform any duty
required of him under or in the execution of this title, or rules,
regulations, or directions made pursuant to this title. . . ."
Page 351 U. S. 222
were made subject to § 12(a) by § 6(j), which declares that a
conscientious objector who fails or neglects to obey an order of
his local board shall be deemed to have "failed or neglected to
perform a duty required of him" by § 12. [Footnote 8
The orders set out above, p. 351 U. S. 218
could only be the basis of one conviction, but they directed the
registrant to perform two duties. The first is to report to the
local board. This was done by each registrant. The second is to
report for employment and to remain there in employment for 24
consecutive months. The "instructions to proceed" given by the
board, and the statement that "failure . . . to proceed to the
place of employment pursuant to instructions" would constitute a
crime, are for the registrant's information. They did not create
another duty. This appears emphatically from the characterization
in the explanatory paragraph that failure to report or proceed to
the place of employment would be a violation of orders. The crimes
charged arise from failure to complete the second duty -- report
for employment. Accordingly venue must lie where the failure
cases cited above, note 5
It will be noted that the indictments set out the place of the
alleged crimes in the terms of the orders, and give jurisdiction
for trial in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District
of Kansas. In each instance, the charge is failure to perform a
"duty" in that the registrant
Page 351 U. S. 223
failed "to report" to the respective hospitals. Thus, the
indictments, based on the charged violation of the order, follow,
as we see it, the requirements of law for trial in the State and
district where the crime was committed.
We affirm the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in No. 643,
and reverse the Court of
Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in No. 704, the Patteson
No. 643, Affirmed.
No. 704, Reversed.
"(b) OFFENSE COMMITTED IN TWO OR MORE DISTRICTS OR DIVISIONS.
The court upon motion of the defendant shall transfer the
proceeding as to him to another district or division, if it appears
from the indictment or information or from a bill of particulars
that the offense was committed in more than one district or
division and if the court is satisfied that in the interest of
justice the proceeding should be transferred to another district or
division in which the commission of the offense is charged."
The stipulations in the Johnston and Sokol cases show the use of
this form. The Patteson case also was argued on this understanding,
and defendant's motion to dismiss was sustained on allegations of
fact that confirm our assumption that his order also was on the
50 U.S.C.App. § 456(j):
". . . Any person claiming exemption from combatant training and
service because of such conscientious objections whose claim is
sustained by the local board shall . . . , in lieu of such
induction, be ordered by his local board . . . to perform . . .
such civilian work . . . as the local board may deem appropriate
and any such person who knowingly fails or neglects to obey any
such order from his local board shall be deemed, for the purposes
of section 12 of this title . . . , to have knowingly failed or
neglected to perform a duty required of him under this title. . .
50 U.S.C.App. § 462(a):
"Any . . . person . . . who in any manner shall knowingly fail
or neglect or refuse to perform any duty required of him under or
in the execution of this title . . . , or rules, regulations, or
directions made pursuant to this title . . . shall, upon conviction
in any district court of the United States of competent
jurisdiction, be punished by imprisonment for not more than five
years or a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both such fine and
imprisonment. . . ."
Rumely v. McCarthy, 250 U. S. 283
United States v. Lombardo, 241 U. S.
; Jones v. Pescor,
169 F.2d 853; New York
Central & H. R. Co. v. United States,
166 F. 267.
cases cited in United States v. Anderson,
328 U. S. 699
328 U. S. 705
note 14, and see United States v. Wyman, 125 F.
, 280. Compare
state court decisions which
hold that a State may punish a father for nonsupport of his child
even though the defendant is outside the State while committing the
offense. Comment, 6 Stan.L.Rev. 709.
Cf. United States v. Lombardo, 241 U. S.
, 241 U. S. 78
Haas v. Henkel, 216 U. S. 462
See also United States v. Wilson
and United States
v. Purchasing Corp.,
344 U.S. 923, where, in an interpretation
of a statutory duty to "forward" a report of shipments under the
Tobacco Tax Act, 63 Stat. 884, we approved the District Court
judgment that venue for prosecution was in the district of the
shipper, rather than the district of the receiver of the
We ruled in the case of Dodez v. United States,
329 U. S. 338
that Dodez had exhausted his administrative remedies, and therefore
could defend on indictment his failure when he violated an order to
report to the local board for work of national importance. Venue
was laid in the District of the Board. No question was raised or
decided here as to venue. Petition for certiorari, p. 2; Brief of
the United States. Furthermore as the United States points out in
this case at the time of Dodez' breach, the Government delivered
the conscientious objector registrants to the place of work.
Order to Report for Work, R. 155, No. 86, 1946
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom The CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE
BLACK concur, dissenting.
Patteson, who lives in Oklahoma and defied his draft board
there, is required to stand trial in Kansas. Johnston and Sokol,
who live in the Western District of Pennsylvania and defied their
draft board there, are forced by this decision to stand trial in
the Eastern District. Yet each defied the law at home, not in the
distant place. Unlike United States v. Anderson,
328 U. S. 699
act of any kind was committed in the distant district. Unlike
Rumely v. McCarthy, 250 U. S. 283
United States v. Lombardo, 241 U. S.
, Congress has not specifically selected the failure
to perform an act in the distant district and made it a crime. The
statutory crime is the failure of a conscientious objector,
directed to perform civilian work, "to obey any such order from his
local board." 62 Stat. 612, as amended, 65 Stat. 86, 50
U.S.C.Appendix, § 456(j). The argument in the case has been like a
theological debate over the number of angels who can stand on the
head of a pin. Of course, the duty to obey can be divied up into a
whole series of duties. But, when the registrant is adamant in his
refusal to budge from his home town and stays at home defying the
local authorities, the crime he has committed has been committed at
Page 351 U. S. 224
Any doubts should be resolved in favor of the citizen. We should
construe the statute against two historic constitutional
provisions. Article III, § 2, cl. 3, provides that
"The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall
be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the
said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed
within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the
Congress may by Law have directed."
And the Sixth Amendment guarantees an accused
"a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State
and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which
district shall have been previously ascertained by law. . . ."
While we have here a statutory problem, not a constitutional
one, the history of the two constitutional guarantees throws light
on the problem of venue. When the British Parliament proposed
taking Americans abroad or to another colony for trial, the
Virginia Resolves of May 16, 1969, voiced the unanimous view
"thereby the inestimable Privilege of being tried by a Jury from
the Vicinage, as well as the Liberty of summoning and producing
Witnesses on such Trial, will be taken away from the Party accused.
The boys in the present cases suffer comparably. For their
defiance of their local boards they are sent to distant places for
trial where they have no friends, where they are unknown, and to
which all witnesses must be transported. Congress would have the
power to fix the venue there. But it has not done so unambiguously.
Cf. United States v. Midstate Horticultural Co.,
306 U. S. 161
306 U. S. 166
United States v. Johnson, 323 U.
, 323 U. S. 276
I would read the statute with an eye to history and try the
offenders at home where our forefathers thought that normally men
would receive the fairest trial.
* Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1766-1769, p.