Gore v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Philadelphia Board of Public Education

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 357 US 386 (1958)
ARGUED: May 19, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Gore v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 19, 1958 in Gore v. United States

Earl Warren:

-- States of America.

Mr. Rauh.

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.:

May it please the Court.

The question presented here is whether petitioner was properly sentenced to three consecutive prison terms for a single sale of narcotics simultaneously violating three anti-narcotics statutes.

The court below reluctantly followed this Court's decision in Blockburger and said that this could be done.

The facts are uncomplicated and I believe undisputed, indictments in six counts.

The first three cover one sale and the second three, cover a sale two days later.

The first three counts are, count one is that he sold without the required written order that violates one statute.

Second count is he sold the same narcotics without a tax stamp that violates a different statute.

The third is he sold it knowing it has been unlawfully imported, a third completely different statute.

The second three counts has four, five and six, are the same statutory violation of the second sale.

The trial was like every other narcotics trial, I take it, like the ones that Massey Alley and Sherman decided this morning.

It was simply the testimony of the narcotics agent who had induced the sale.

We make no claim of entrapment because we were not -- we know nothing about the situation but we do know that the entrapment point was raised.

But the testimony was roughly the same.

The agent comes in and testifies.

He went to the man.

He asked if he could buy some narcotics.

The man goes out for an hour.

He comes back, hands him the narcotics, takes the Government agent's money and that's all we know about it.

We do know that it was simply this one act all within an hour of going out and getting the narcotics and handing it over that allegedly violates three statutes.

Now, the sentence which Judge Youngdahl gave was this, one to five years on the first count for selling without a written order, one to five years consecutive on the second count of selling without tax stamps and one to five years on the third count of selling knowing of the unlawful importation, a total of 3 to 15 years for the first sale.

For the second sale, he gave him a concurrent sentence, so that what we really -- what we have before the Court is the consecutive sentences of one to five, one to five and one to five for the one sale for the three statutes.

In other words, we do not have to concern ourselves with the second sale because that was all concurrent.

What was the maximum sentence it could have imposed -- imposed if this was a single and just to be -- used it as a single crime?

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.:

Five years maximum and it was 15.

The minimum in the District of Columbia is one-third of the maximum under the Indeterminate Sentence Act, so it would have been 20 months, would have been most of the minimum could have been and we have 3 to 15 instead of what would have been maximum 20 to 5 -- five years.

Now, there was no appeal but the -- under 28 U.S.C. 2255, petitioner sought relief from an excessive sentence.

The District Court found he was not entitled to relief.

The Court of Appeals affirmed by Judge Bazelon and Judge Faye both expressed their displeasure or reluctance to follow Blockburger, although they of course did follow it.