Gilbert v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Herricks School District

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

CITATION: 370 US 650 (1962)
ARGUED: Apr 10, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Gilbert v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 10, 1962 (Part 1) in Gilbert v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 10, 1962 (Part 2) in Gilbert v. United States

Earl Warren:

Mr. Dorn, you may continue.

Albert A. Dorn:

If it pleases the Court.

Before lunch, I indicated to the Court the theory under which the case was tried in the trial court.

That the theory, the factual -- at least supposition was that all of these checks, and by the way, I think we had possibly 8 or 9 or 10 other checks involved in separate forgery counts, that all of the checks were signed in a representative capacity but that the trial court clearly indicated as shown by the record that the trial court considered that nevertheless, if there was no authority either oral or written, that that constituted forgery under the appropriate section of the code.

In the arguments to the jury, the question was always considered in the light that the checks were signed in a representative capacity.

John M. Harlan II:

Are the arguments to the jury -- were they transcribed?

Albert A. Dorn:

Yes, they were.

John M. Harlan II:

Are they into this Court?

Albert A. Dorn:

They're not before this Court.

Earl Warren:

Are they available?

Albert A. Dorn:


I believe they're in the record, however, in the transcript.

Earl Warren:

The -- the complete record is here.

Albert A. Dorn:

Yes, it is.

Earl Warren:

Are they in there?

Albert A. Dorn:

Yes Your, Honor.

Earl Warren:

Very well.

Albert A. Dorn:

These two checks which were involved now before this Court, were actually considered by both counsel trying the case as the least important of all counts because at the time this case was tried, well, shortly prior to that time, the Government had possession of the power of attorney which is defendants Exhibit M.

This power of attorney, along with many other powers of attorney together with what the Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision, characterizes as thousands of documents were seized and characterized by the Circuit Court as illegally seized from the defendant based upon the -- a complaint issued on one of the checks which is now before this Court so that the Government had the power of attorney in its possession for quite some time.

There was never any contention that the power of attorney itself was forged or illegally procured or anything else of that nature.

The power of attorney was simply admitted in evidence at that time and not too much attention was paid to it.

The question of these two counts, I'm sure, were intermingled with the evidence on 33 other counts involving difficult factual questions, involving complicated tax returns.

And these two counts, as indicated by the record, the testimony is very brief.

Some question, I think is made by counsel as to whether the answer of the Bartfield's was equivocal or not.

Actually, he says that he did sign the power of attorney.

He said the signature of his wife looked like her signature.

She says it appears to be her signature.

And there's nothing more ever said about it.

Insofar as the appearance of the endorsement of the check itself, although in the trial court and Circuit Court of Appeals, it was considered without question that the checks on their face indicated they were signed in a representative capacity.

Although that was without question, nevertheless, I think the most that can be said about it in this Court is that from the Government's standpoint, it presented a jury question and I think the jury at least were entitled to decide whether these checks were signed in a representative capacity or not.