Namet v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Formerly S. H. Kress and Co.

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 179 (1963)
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1963
DECIDED: May 13, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Namet v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1963 in Namet v. United States

Earl Warren:

Mr. Fitzgerald.

John H. Fitzgerald:

Mr. Chief Justice and honorable Justices of this Court.

May it please the Court, for a moment I would just like to review the factual situation concerned with this case?

This case involves an infraction of Title 26 of the U.S. Code, which requires any person in the business of accepting wagers to have a federal tax stamp, further to register as a so-called acceptor of such wagers with the local Internal Revenue Bureau.

David Namet was accused of failing to have done this.

The treasury agents for sometime conducted a surveillance of Mr. Namet, during which period they followed him about.

They saw him visiting on a couple of times a week various variety stores, which had a reputation for accepting wagers.

At no time in their entire surveillance, which consumed over a month, did they ever see the defendant, the petitioner here, accept one bet, one wager for himself or anybody else or did they find any -- during that period of surveillance, any kind of evidence upon his person.

The evidence offered by the government's eyewitnesses was to the effect that the surveillance was conducted in the month of March during one of the fabled New England winters of course where an automobile could be used and when it couldn't, the petitioner would go on foot.

This time he wore a three-quarter length coat, which paired with patch pockets.

Witnesses testified to the effect that as he went into the different stores, his pockets were perceptibly filled when he came out while there were perceptibly empty when he went in.

A raid was eventually conducted in the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts to the North of Boston, at which time the Treasury Agents went into the house of Namet.

There they found an envelope containing -- three envelopes containing a total of $700, $75 and $50 and $186 in cash on defendant Namet's peron.

They found miscellaneous items of pieces of paper with numbers on them.

Political cards, pencils, paper, unused pads, three slips in his wallet the size of 3x5 pad containing some numbers there on, none of which was dated in anyway except for three items, two of which were mere information items called half slips; they were dated 1948 and 1949 I believe.

John M. Harlan II:

What's a half slip?

John H. Fitzgerald:

A half slip Your Honor is a card where the better puts in a number to a person engaged in a business of taking wagers.

Should numbers they play come up so frequently, they are only paid half of the odds, which another number would pay the full extent of the odds.

These are merely for information purposes and I suppose they found as has been testified by experts in these various cases and through the course of the year or so as the numbers come out repeatedly in the newspapers, they are taken from newspapers by the way, should numbers repeat themselves with such a frequency, that it's unfair to the so-called man who accepts a wager to have him pay the full amount of the bet, so therefore he only pays half, they are just information.

John M. Harlan II:


John H. Fitzgerald:

Something to that effect Your Honor.

But these are not for sale, they are given away and there was some other -- and there was one other envelope in the defendant Namet's house, which had a date February with no specific day Your Honor but 1949.

About this evidence which was taken in his house, his son appeared and testified on behalf of his father and parenthetically and coincidentally his son happens to be a practicing lawyer in Massachusetts, Office of the Court.

He testified to the effect of this material, this pile of pencils and papers have been around the house for years to his knowledge.

The money and the envelopes was the proceeds of an insurance policy left over after they had buried his mother with -- recently before this so-called raid.

At the trial, it was during the same raid in another part of the city, same agents picked up a husband and a wife Irving and Annette Kahn.

Present Counsel appeared for all three.

For reasons best known to Counsel, he suggested that the Kahns change their plea of guilty to not guilty, which they did.

While changing their plea to guilty and at the same time, the Namet trial was to proceed on a not guilty basis for a jury.

The United States Attorney had the United States Marshall present serve the two Kahns with a summons.