Corey v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 375 US 169 (1963)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1963
DECIDED: Dec 09, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Corey v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1963 (Part 2) in Corey v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1963 (Part 1) in Corey v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 31, Benjamin W. Corey, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Brown you may proceed with your argument.

Russell Morton Brown:

Thank you Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court.

This case involves an application for the Court to exercise it supervisory jurisdiction really over the actions of the Districts Courts in applying a fairly new statute which has been referred to as the Federal Sentencing Act of 1958.

This particular case involves the right of one individual to appeal and the decision of this Court will determine whether he will have an opportunity to appeal or not, there are other cases that will certainly be governed by this Court's ruling and we have asked the Court to pass upon the single question of what constitutes a final judgment in a criminal proceeding where the Court invokes the authority, given by the new statute, to secure further information as a basis for determining the sentence to be imposed.

Of course the usual practice is to permit the defendant to continue at the liberty under the bail, or if he is not under bail and remains in custody, but to pass no final sentence until a probation officer can submit a report for the Court's guidance.

At this point the -- there is no sentence whatsoever imposed.

In the case at bar, I should tell the Court the defendant on trial is a member of the Massachusetts bar, an individual with an outstanding record of service in both World War II and in the Korean conflict and man who experienced some psychiatric difficulty and was at the time this case took place considered to have some psychiatric disability connected with his military service.

He had practiced law and had returned from a Korean war and had gotten into a business of selling scientific instruments to some of the Massachusetts scientific establishments like MIT University and Harvard and some of the government establishments up there.

It developed that the purchasing agent at one of the government installations the Watertown Massachusetts arsenal was being investigated for shortages in the inventory of materials and parts that he was supposed to have on hand and he involved a large number of purchase merchants said that he had never received this merchandise but had simply agreed with these merchants of whom the defendant and petitioner here was one, to submit invoices which he would approve as being correct and he would see that they were paid and then divide the proceeds with these merchants.

This petitioner pleaded not guilty along with all the others, I beg you pardon.


Russell Morton Brown:

I would say approximately $5000 over a period of some time and involving 75 invoices, so there were 75 counts involved.


Russell Morton Brown:

I believe that's correct, it was a relatively small amount and the very smallness of the amount is one of the points that would be raised on appeal if we were able to appeal, because evidence was rejected which showed that there would have been no profit at all to this defendant under the circumstances of the small amount.

However, in the course of the trial I should tell the Court that this petitioner was the first and only one to be tried under these indictments, there were a number of indictments, because these are all pleaded guilty after he was convicted, he went to trial, pleaded not guilty took the stand in his own defense.

There are matters of law that we feel and I personally will represent to the Court that the questions sought to be raised on appeal are of substance and are not frivolous by any means.

They involve for one thing an instruction of the Court to the jury as to the conclusion I might draw from a reported conversation between an FBI agent and this petitioner.

We feel that the Court erroneously instructed the jury as to the deduction I might draw from that.

Second there is some serious question about the propriety of submitting the case to the jury on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice, particularly in the circumstances of this case.

Now I am not unaware of our Federal rule that a conviction may stand on that basis, but we seek to raise for the Court's consideration, that is the Court of Appeals' consideration plus we eventually hear the propriety of a conviction which rests upon the particular peculiar circumstances of this case where there was possibly evidence of an exculpatory nature in the possession of the prosecution and so on.

Tom C. Clark:


Russell Morton Brown:

No, your Honor, they are not, Mr. Justice Clark.

I simply mention so the Court will feel and realize that there are matters of substance which we seek to raise on the appeal and which we haven't been permitted to present at all.


Russell Morton Brown:

Not at all, not at all but if the questions that we sought to rise were of privilege nature.

I wouldn't, yes thank you Your Honor.

Now the point that I must invite the Court's attention to here is particularly the fact that after the jury had concluded that the defendant was guilty and matter came on for a sentencing, the Court said I have no complete probation report and I don't know what to do.

At that point we can tell this in the brief they have set forth verbatim.

The defense counsel, a very able and distinguished Boston lawyer presented a physician of the Veterans Administration testify to the psychiatric condition of this defendant to testify that he had been in the Veterans Administration hospital under care and discussed the desirability of continuing treatment without incarceration.