Brogan v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“Petitioner James Brogan, a labor union officer, accepted cash payments from a company whose employees were represented by the union. When federal investigatory agents, who were visiting Brogan at his home, asked whether he had received any cash or gifts from the company when he was a union officer, he replied “no.” Subsequently, Brogan was indicted for accepting unlawful cash payments from an employer, in violation of federal labor law, and making a false statement within the jurisdiction of a federal agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001. Brogan, who was tried along with several codefendants in federal district court, was found guilty. Brogan appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed Brogan’s conviction. The court rejected Brogan’s claim that his false statements fell within the so-called “exculpatory no” doctrine, a defense to a § 1001 charge recognized in many federal appellate courts, and thus his conviction § 1001 had to be reversed. Brogan was granted a writ of certiorari.”


Has Congress authorized the Secretary of Transportation to appoint civilian members of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals? If so, is this authorization constitutional under the Appointments Clause of Article II?


“No. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the imposition of criminal liability for false statements is not limited only to those falsehoods that pervert governmental functions – it applies to statements “of whatever kind.” Moreover, even if the “exculpatory no” doctrine did apply to statements that do not impede federal functions, Brogan would not benefit from it since his falsehoods were intended to prevent federal agents from uncovering the truth. The Court concluded by noting that a literal reading of federal laws which prohibit the “exculpatory no” defense is consistent with the Fifth Amendment, since the Framers never intended to confer a privilege to lie.”

Case Information

Citation: 522 US 398 (1998)
Argued: Dec 2, 1997
Decided: Jan 26, 1998
Case Brief: 1998