Standefer v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Congress

DOCKET NO.: 79-383
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 447 US 10 (1980)
ARGUED: Apr 14, 1980
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1980

Harold Gondelman - on behalf of the Petitioner
William H. Alsup - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Standefer v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 14, 1980 in Standefer v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Standefer against the United States.

Mr. Gondelman, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Harold Gondelman:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

The opinion in U.S. v. Standefer appealed from is now reported at 610 F.2d 1076.

It had not been when we prepared our briefs.

Warren E. Burger:

What was the page, 76?

Harold Gondelman:


610 F.2d 1076.

In this case Mr. Standefer was indicted on a 9-count indictment, the odd counts of which charged him with violation of 26 U.S.C. 7214(a)(2), the event counts of which charged 18 U.S.C. 201(f).

Having read the 72-page opinion, majority and minority opinions of the court en banc and the three-judge panel, the Circuit Court withdrew their original opinion when they did order a hearing before the court en bank.

But in reviewing that and in reviewing the briefs in this case, it sort of reminds me a little bit of the Alice-in-Wonderland story when Alice says to the big rabbit, "Where do I start?"

And the rabbit said, "You start at the beginning, you proceed to the end and then stop.

"Now, in this case as a defense lawyer and trial counsel in the court below, when I received the indictment and the privilege of representing Mr. Standefer I didn't start with the legislative history in 1908, which was five years before the 16th Amendment, which allowed income tax laws to be passed to create a bureaucracy that they now want to apply the legislative history of 1908 to.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, Mr. Gondelman, after having read your 113-page brief on petition for writ of certiorari, I notice that nowhere do you cite Dunn v. The United States, which is Justice Holmes' old opinion saying that inconsistent verdicts in juries are perfectly permissible under the Constitution and the Federal law.

Do you think you can win this case without overruling the Dunn case?

Harold Gondelman:

I think so, Your Honor, and I will address myself directly to that, because in order to start in this case you must start by leading the indictment against Mr. Standefer and, unfortunately, no court has yet got to the indictment that I thought I was trying.

Let me show Your Honor why I think and did not discuss Justice Holmes' case, because it has nothing to do with this case, if I may say so.

The indictment in this case says that Mr. Standefer did on or about -- and I won't go through all the odd counts, but each start with a date -- did aid and abet Cyril J. Niederberger, an officer and employee of the United States, acting in connection with Revenue laws of the United States, namely a supervisory Internal Revenue agent -- skipping dates -- in unlawfully and knowingly receiving a fee, compensation and reward as set forth below which was not prescribed by law for the performance of his duties as an Internal Revenue Service agent.

Now, when I read that indictment I then to make certain that all courts would be able to correlate very clearly what I am talking about, in my motion to dismiss I attached the Count 1 indictment against Standefer with the Count 2 indictment against Niederberger so that we could see exactly what the same party -- that is the United States of America -- under its grand jury charged Mr. Niederberger with as well as Mr. Standefer with.

And at pages 28-A on, you will see that the grand jury indictment against Mr. Niederberger says that from on or about the same dates that Standefer is charged with having given the fee, compensation and reward to an officer employee Niederberger -- and no one else, Niederberger -- that Mr. Niederberger did receive the golf trip in the exact amount on the exact date to the same place at the same time.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, what if Mr. Niederberger had dropped dead even before he was indicted do you think that would preclude indictment and conviction of Standefer?

Harold Gondelman:

Mr. Chief Justice, we are long past the need to try the principal or convict the principal.

But when the Government of the United States chooses to indict the principal, and they are supposed to know the law, and in order to have some kind of semblance of uniformity across this country of ours, because each U.S. Attorney may act differently and does, if Niederberger was not tried there would not be a mutual collateral estoppel, there would not be a finding by a jury that he did not in fact commit the crime, and that is what happened here.

Potter Stewart:

They indicted the principal and tried him and he was innocent.

Harold Gondelman:

And he was found not guilty on three counts.

William H. Rehnquist:

Dunn says he can be found not guilty and your client can be found guilty.

Harold Gondelman:

But, Justice Rehnquist, in every case that is decided and every circuit that is reported, and interestingly enough you ask why I didn't comment on U.S. v. Dunn, why didn't the Government talk about one case cited on page 9 of my brief where if you try the principal and the aider and abettor --

William H. Rehnquist:

This isn't the Court of Appeals, this is the Supreme Court of the United States.

Harold Gondelman:

I understand that.

In this case, Your Honor, in every case that has been passed upon --