United States v. Yermian

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Esmail Yermian
LOCATION: Gulton Industries

DOCKET NO.: 83-346
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 63 (1984)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1984
GRANTED: Nov 28, 1983

Carolyn F. Corwin - on behalf of Petitioner
Stephen J. Hillman - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case

In 1979, Esmail Yermian was applied for the position in the company for the Department of Defense and then was appointed. Because he would be able to use the confidential information regarding job issues; before that he filed out the application for securities purposes.

In this questionnaire Yermian didn`t indicate that he was condemned for correspondence fraud in 1978. He also noted that he had worked at two enterprises that were the false. After the completion of the application, he made a signature proving that his statements were true, total and precise. Then the state officials found out that Yermian`s application was misleading, but he affirmed that this was slander.

At the trial hearings, the accused demanded a jury instruction that the state authority confirmed that he was aware not only of his fallacy but that he was acknowledged about the jurisdiction of the federal administration. The district court denied his requests and considered his guilt.

The plaintiff brought the suit for the appellation, and the judges overturned the judicial ruling finding that the defendant was deprived of his right to instruction.

Government department filed a claim to the Supreme Court of the USA that overtook the case the United States v. Yermian because of the arising of the federal conflict.

The court upheld the content of the questionnaire contained the provisions that informed about the responsibility for the answering misleadingly instead of the jurisdiction. The judges concluded that there was no legal practice and reason to prove the authority of the state department.


Does the government have to prove knowledge of federal agency jurisdiction in cases that deal with making false statements to a government department or agency?

Media for United States v. Yermian

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1984 in United States v. Yermian

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments first this morning in United States against Yermian.

Ms. Corwin, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case raises the question of what elements the government must prove in order to establish a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, the federal false statements statute.

Respondent in this case filled out a form in connection with a security clearance process required by the Department of Defense.

Respondent had been hired as an engineer by a company that was a defense contractor.

In order to work on certain projects, it was necessary that he be investigated and that he receive a government security clearance.

For that purpose, Respondent's employer gave him a work sheet to fill out.

On that work sheet, Respondent indicated that he had never been convicted of a crime and he listed the employers for whom he had worked in the past.

Respondent's employer transcribed that information onto another form entitled

"Department of Defense personnel security questionnaire. "

Respondent signed that form and it was mailed to the Department of Defense.

Subsequently, the FBI discovered that in fact Respondent had been convicted of mail fraud and that two of the employers that he had listed on his form in fact had never employed Respondent.

On the basis of those false statements, Respondent was indicted and convicted for violations of Section 1001.

At trial Respondent's sole defense was that he had not realized that the false information he provided would be forwarded to the federal government.

Both sides in this case agree that the government must establish certain elements in order to make out a violation of Section 1001.

The government must prove that the defendant's statements were false and that he knew it at the time.

Respondent acknowledges here that his statements were false and that he knew that when he filled out and signed the form.

Both sides also agree that the government must establish that a defendant made his statement in a matter within federal agency jurisdiction.

Respondent agrees with us that his false statements were made in such a matter, since the government security clearance process is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.

John Paul Stevens:

May I ask right there, what about the work sheet?

Was that a matter within the jurisdiction?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

Well, I think the matter within the jurisdiction was the entire security clearance process.

John Paul Stevens:

So the work sheet would be part of it?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

The work sheet was part of that process, and it was really a preparation for the final sheet that was typed up and sent in.

John Paul Stevens:

So you could have indicted him on the basis of the work sheet?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

Well, I think that depends on whether the security clearance process worked its way through.

I suppose if the work sheet had been filled out and it had been decided never to proceed with the process that it wouldn't have been in a matter.

John Paul Stevens:

Well, suppose the employer had just forwarded the work sheet without having the supplemental document which had on its face the evidence about the security clearance?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

Well, I would note preliminarily that the work sheet did have some indications that it--