Crandon v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

DOCKET NO.: 88-931
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 494 US 152 (1990)
ARGUED: Nov 06, 1989
DECIDED: Feb 27, 1990

Benjamin S. Sharp - on behalf of the Petitioner in No. 88-938
Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the Respondent
Phillip Allen Lacovara - on behalf of the Petitioners in No. 88-931

Facts of the case


Media for Crandon v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 06, 1989 in Crandon v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 27, 1990 in Crandon v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 88-931, Crandon against United States and a companion case will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

These cases come to us on writs of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Five individual petitioners, each received substantial severance payments from the Boeing Company, which is also a petitioner in one case, before leaving their jobs at Boeing to take jobs at the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

The government brought an action seeking to recover the amount of the payments against the employee and Boeing alleging violations of criminal statute 18 U.S.C. Section 209(a) which forbids a private party to pay and a government employee to receive any supplemental compensation for the employee’s government service.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we hold that Section 209(a) does not apply to a severance payment made before a payee becomes a government employee.

A literal reading of the statute’s text, as well as application of the rule of lenity support our conclusion that a recipient’s status as a government employee is an element of a Section 209(a) violation.

The judgment is accordingly reversed.

Justice Scalia has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice O’Connor and Justice Kennedy have joined.