United States v. Blue

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 251 (1966)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1966
DECIDED: May 23, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Blue

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1966 in United States v. Blue

Earl Warren:

United States versus Blue, Number 531 on the docket.

Mr. Solicitor General.

Thurgood Marshall:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case involves a dismissal of an indictment charging willful attempts to evade and defeat personal income taxes on the -- the dismissal was on the ground of the defendant's right against compulsory self-incrimination had been violated as a result of a previously made jeopardy assessment against the same defendant.

On August 5, 1964, the appellee was indicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

It was a six-count indictment charging violations of willful attempt to evade payment of the taxes and also to subscribing false corporate returns.

A motion to dismiss was filed against indictment and the motion dismissed was grounded on three propositions that the defendant could not get a fair trial, second, the alleged he was denied right to counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment, and third that he had been compelled to testify against himself in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The facts are reasonably simple and not essentially in dispute.

The counsel for the appellee attended conferences with the Internal Revenue Service officials in November of 1962 and again in March of 1963.

And that both of these meetings, Internal Revenue made it clear to the counsel for appellee that they were going to recommend criminal prosecution with no question that was understood on both sides.

And on April 9 of 1963, the jeopardy assessment against appellees known assets was issued pursuant to Section 6861 of the Code.

And on June 6 of the same year, the statutory notice of deficiencies for each of the tax years involved were issued with the usual letter.

The attorneys for the appellee filed their petitions with the Tax Court.

And these petitions appeared to be a normal type and they provide the appellee's name and address, et cetera, the office, “the deficiencies as claimed,” and then in each of these petitions, concluded with the allegations repeating an affirmative form of the specific assertions of error contained in the earlier paragraphs.

These were practically identical and the sample of one is set out on page 5 of our brief so that it would not be necessary to go into the record.

And it was the appellee's position that the filing of these petitions amounted to testimony and incriminating evidence which made it impossible to try him for criminal charges at anytime involving the same years involved.

This is self-incrimination.

Thurgood Marshall:

The fact that the Government by filing its jeopardy assessment required the defendant --

Sue to get it back?

Thurgood Marshall:

To file his petition in the Tax Court and that in the petition in the Tax Court, he gave up some information.

When we read the petitions there, the usual type of petitions, which says that the jeopardy assessment is wrong, solely it says -- it says it over and over again in their beautiful language, well that's all there is good.

And that I think I should mention that throughout the colloquy with counsel.

The judge consulaire says that he has incriminated himself in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Not that he will later, I'm sure he means that this will be used in trial.

However, the U.S. Attorney repeatedly made it clear that these jeopardy assessments, the petitions and nothing else were going to be used at the trial.

There was no question, if they weren't going to be used.

There was -- it was true that they were into files, this criminal -- the U.S. Attorney's Office.

And the position taken by the court below is that the -- this in and of itself was final.

We then applied to the Court's -- appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and on that motion, the case was appealed and certified here.

There are two points that we have involved and there are only two.