Frank v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: McDougald Terrace

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 395 US 147 (1969)
ARGUED: Dec 12, 1968
DECIDED: May 19, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Frank v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1968 in Frank v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 200, Frank -- Ben H. Frank, petitioner, versus, United States.

John B. Ogden:

We're ready, Mr. Chief Justice and member of the Court.

I think this case should take a very brief time because of the fact that the petitioner was charged with contempt of Court, convicted without a jury after a written demand and oral demand, and that really is about all there is to this case.

He, likewise, as -- was unable, financially, to get this case or file a petitioned in this Court, and I -- if it’s not improper, I want to just thank the Court for being so generous to this man.

It kind of makes you feel awfully good to see a man without a dime in the world to be able to appear before the highest Court in the country and have his rights determined, and I just say that very sincere and I’m doing what I did for nothing, too.

So, I really don't have anything financially gained or lose.

If I win or lose the case, it doesn't make any difference, but I just felt like it should be presented.

Now, if the Court please, in this case, in 1952 in Oklahoma City, there was a default judgment rendered against Mr. Frank, enjoining him from, in effect, violating the Securities and Exchange Act.

He is a man that, to get out and try to drill all wild terrain.

He never made anything at it, but that -- in other words, it wasn't one of these cases where somebody go out and make a lot of money, leaving everybody sitting there.

I don't think his -- I don't think he ever owned a car that's paid for, and I know he didn't own a home.

He's just one of those kinds of people.

Couldn't do much with him, I guess, so they just filed a suit against him instead of prosecuting him under the Securities and Exchange Act, and he didn't appear.

They served a summons.

They used a judgment against him.

So then, after that, he just kept on.

He didn't pay much attention to it, and so they filed and got an indictment against him.

Then, I went up there and defended him in the Federal Court for three to four days.

I don't know how long.

The jury stayed out an hour -- I mean, almost over a day, but they convicted him and got 18 months on appeal at the Court of Appeals in Denver for the Tenth Circuit, and it was reversed.

Then, after it was reversed, it came back.

Why, Judge Volt, whose son at that time was my law partner, Judge Volt was a very kind person, an awfully nice person.

He suggested this case face him.

Almost cried.

Just to let him enter a plea of no contention and get some kind of little sentence and that saved the government and everybody else a lot of time, and he finally did that case and disposed over that matter.

Then, this case came along and I wasn't employed in it.

Mr. Frank had moved to Tulsa, and that's where the acts actually occurred and, I presume, the person who wanted to be detective, that would've made him cry and Tulsa would've tried him in Oklahoma City.

So, he had another law firm, I mean, a law firm.

I'm just a one-man lawyer.

But, he had a law firm represent him and they demanded and did an excellent job but, jury in, wrote it in writing and orally and every other way.