Campbell v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 85 (1961)
ARGUED: Dec 06, 1960
DECIDED: Jan 23, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Campbell v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 06, 1960 in Campbell v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 53, Alvin R. Campbell, Arnold S. Campbell and Donald Lester, Petitioners, versus United States.

Mr. Louison, you may proceed with your argument.

Melvin S. Louison:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case arises out of the so-called Jencks statute, 18 U.S.C. Section 3500, and actually presents what we submit to be a novel question, partially perhaps due to the newness of the statute.

The question presented, may it please the Court, is whether or not, after a foundation for the admission of a statement as defined by the statute is laid on cross-examination, is the production of that statement thereby excused when the prosecutor states that the original document is no longer in existence and cannot be produced.

And further, that the only statement in the possession of the Government is a report of the FBI agent in charge of the interview which does not meet the definition of the -- of a statement within the statute as laid down by this Court in the Palermo decision.

Now, actually, this case arises out of indictments for bank robbery -- for violation of the Federal Bank Robbery Act and resulted in convictions of the three petitioners and maximum sentences of 25 years each were imposed by the District Judge.

The decision of the Court of Appeals, actually, does not help us in any respect on the question presented to this Court at this time for the reason that, as shown in the record, the Court of Appeals said that the pretrial report, I refer to page 6 -- 216 of the record, the pretrial report does -- the question concerning the pretrial report does not warrant extended discussion in view of the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Palermo versus United States and that was the subtle substance of what the Court of Appeals in the First Circuit had to say about this point before the Court today.

William O. Douglas:

I didn't get what the page you were reading there.

Melvin S. Louison:

216, Mr. Justice Douglas, of the record and I refer you to the last two lines on that page, in the top of page 217.

William O. Douglas:

Thank you.

Melvin S. Louison:

The Court of Appeals actually took the principle of Palermo out of context and applied it in its naked existence to a -- an entirely different factual situation and they did that in this manner.

In the Palermo case, you had, of course, the situation of a statement which was demanded among others and which did not meet the definition of a statement, as outlined by the statute and ruled on by this Court.

In our case, we have the situation where we submit to the Court, there was a statement in existence and that statement was no longer in existence and this report now was the only, if not the best, available evidence of what had formally been the statement of the witness which had been reduced to writing and approved and adopted by him.

John M. Harlan II:

How about the --

Melvin S. Louison:

Now --

John M. Harlan II:

How about the agent himself (Inaudible)

Melvin S. Louison:

Well, if Your Honor please, we felt that we did not -- we were not in a position where we should have been required to call the agent as our witness and -- because the witness testified in this case that the agent summary was not precisely as he had stated it.

He said, and I think the Government quotes it in their brief and saying there were things in there which were turned around.

I refer to page 23 of the Government's brief in which they said they knew that the report contained something different from Staula's testimony since Staula said it was not verbatim.

It was turned around and it was not written up just the way the story is, and they refer to their own pages 11 and 12 which sets out excerpts from the record.

But if I may -- I didn't want to reach that point at this time but if I may, I will.

That imposes upon the petitioners a double burden of proof.

Number one, the burden of proof is upon the petitioners to establish that they come within this statute, that so-called Jencks statute.

And upon establishing that foundation, as the court referred to it in our present case, upon establishing that foundation, it then becomes incumbent upon the petitioners, if that were so, to show that the Government has no excuse for not producing it and actually, exculpation if the defense would be -- the burden of it would be upon the proponent of the defense or the excused.

Felix Frankfurter:

Is there any suggestion that the destruction was due to any reprehensible or -- or --

Melvin S. Louison:

No --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- otherwise or -- or --

Melvin S. Louison:

No, Mr. --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- to any extent due to any -- any cause subject to criticism?