United States v. Hvass

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 355 US 570 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 27, 1958
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Hvass

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 27, 1958 in United States v. Hvass

Earl Warren:

United States of America versus Charles Hvass.

Mr. Spritzer.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors.

This is a direct appeal pursuant to the Criminal Appeals Act from a judgment of the Northern -- of the District Court for the Northern District Court of Iowa which dismissed an indictment for perjury.

This Court has postponed the question of its jurisdiction to this hearing on the merits.

Before getting to that threshold jurisdictional issue, it is of course necessary to state the essential facts and particularly the basis of the District Court's decision.

Mr. Hvass, the appellee in this case is an attorney, a member of the Minnesota Bar.

He is not a member of the Iowa Bar or of the Federal District Court Bar in Iowa.

He wished to participate in two unrelated personal injury actions, both of them pending in the Northern District of Iowa as attorney for the respective plaintiffs on those cases.

Like most District Courts, Iowa has local rules relating to the admission of attorneys who are not members of the local bar.

The applicable rule in this case is called Local Rule 3 and it is set forth at pages 2 and 3 of the Government's brief.

The first paragraph of that rule, the Court will note, contains provisions which are fairly common.

For example, the Out-of-State Attorney must associate with himself a resident attorney for purposes of receiving process and the like.

And it has a provision that the Court may call for a showing of satisfactory moral character.

The second paragraph which is more particularly involved here, relates to a special category of cases to personal injury cases in which the Out-of-State Attorney whishes to represent an Iowa claimant who has suffered injury in Iowa.

Now, as to this category of actions, the Court has imposed by its rule more detailed, fuller requirements.

That second paragraph provides that the Court may require the Out-of-State Attorney to show and I quote here from the rule, that the connection of the said attorney with the case was not occasioned or brought about in violation of the standards of conduct specified in Rule 8 here.

Now Rule 8 to interpolate adopts for the District Court in Iowa the provisions of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association.

So the apparent purpose of this second paragraph of the rule in a nutshell is to enable the Court to deal effectively and promptly at the very outset of a litigation with any possible instance of ambulance chasing by an attorney seeking, believed to participate in a case in that court.

Felix Frankfurter:

This is an ordinary diversity negligence case not an FELA case.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

It isn't a -- this happened to have been FELA cases.

So the --

Felix Frankfurter:


Ralph S. Spritzer:

-- rule would apply equally in a diversity situation.

Felix Frankfurter:

I can see (Inaudible).

Ralph S. Spritzer:

The -- the rule is not restricted, Your Honor to either category.

This brings me to the last sentence of the rule which is particularly important here.

The Court and I'm reading from the Rule at page 3, “As a part of said showing may require the plaintiff and the said attorney to appear and be examined under oath."

Pursuant to this rule, Mr. Hvass sought leave of the Court to participate in the two personal injury cases to which I previously adverted.

The Court then acting on its own motion set his application down for a hearing.