Dixson v. United States

PETITIONER: Dixson
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Spofford Juvenile Center

DOCKET NO.: 82-5279
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 465 US 482 (1984)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1983
DECIDED: Feb 22, 1984

ADVOCATES:
Donald V. Morano - on behalf of the Petitioners, appointed by this Court
Richard G. Wilkins - on behalf of the United States

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Dixson v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1983 in Dixson v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 22, 1984 in Dixson v. United States

Thurgood Marshall:

The other two cases are Dixson against the United States and Hinton against United States, 5279 and 5331.

These consolidated cases are here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The issue is one of federal criminal jurisdiction.

Specifically, whether the petitioners are “public officials” as that term is defined in the federal bribery statute under which petitioners were indicted and convicted.

The petitioners were officers of a nonprofit corporation administrating and expending federal Housing and Community Development Act block grants as the subgrantee of the city of Peoria.

The Government's evidence at trial was that petitioners both have used their positions to extract about $42,000 from contractors seeking to work on urban rehabilitation projects.

For purpose of the federal bribery statute, a public official includes a person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department of the Government.

Congress first adopted and broadly drafted bribery statute in 1853 and affirmed and adopted the language at issue in this case in 1962 revisions.

They conclude that Congress wishes the courts to inquire, not simply whether a person has signed a contract or agreement to serve on Government as a government agent, but rather whether a person who holds a position of public trust with official federal responsibilities.

Clearly, the petitioners did so. As executive of the subgrantee corporation, they had operational responsibility for the administration of a federal grant program.

In allocating the federal funds, they were charged with -- abiding by federal guidelines which directed both where and how the federal funds were to be distributed.

By accepting the responsibility for distributing these federal fiscal resources, petitioners assumed the official role of administering a social service program established by the United States Congress.

In our opinion filed today with the clerk of the Court, we therefore hold that petitioners acted as public officials under this Act when they solicited and accepted bribes in awarding the federally funded contracts for housing rehabilitation.

We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice O'Connor has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Brennan, Justice Rehnquist and Justice Stevens joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.