Venus v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Allen-Bradley Clock Tower

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 368 US 345 (1961)
ARGUED: Dec 14, 1961
DECIDED: Dec 18, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Venus v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 14, 1961 in Venus v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 75, Carlin Constantine Venus, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Covington.

Hayden C. Covington:

May it please the Court.

This writ of certiorari brings before you, gentlemen, a conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, San Diego Division under the Selective Training and Service Act for an alleged violation of the law by failing to keep the local board informed as to an address where communication from the board would reach the petitioner here at all times.

The regulation involved is 32 CFR 1641.3, which appears on page 3 of my brief, the white covered brief and it merely says that a registrant should at all times keep the board advised of an address where mail would reach him.

But an order to correctly understand what address was meant by the President in the promulgation of the regulation, it's necessary for the Court to consider Section 1641.7 which appears in my reply brief, the green-back document at page 4, just an excerpt form, which mentions that when a change is made in the address, the home address of the registrant, not a temporary or other place of abode, but the home address for the registrant notification should be given within 10 days.

And when those two regulations are interpreted together, it shows that it does not mean any address where the registrant maybe found but what the President had in mind was the home address of the registrant.

Potter Stewart:

But where does that appear in your --

Hayden C. Covington:

That appears at page 4 of the reply brief, Your Honor and I must apologize to the Court for not setting it out.

It's under Roman numeral nine, the second --

Potter Stewart:

Oh, I see.

Hayden C. Covington:

-- third and fourth line on page 4 of the green-back reply brief.

John M. Harlan II:


Hayden C. Covington:

This is the excerpt, the pertinent part which uses the term home address which shows that the President had -- did not have a meaning in mind of temporary addresses such as seaman and traveling salesman would use, but their permanent home address, and that becomes important in this case because we have involved here, this home address, is one temporary address, that I'll try to reveal to you gentlemen as I proceed with the argument.

Charles E. Whittaker:

May I ask you please sir, just for a moment?

Would it be a violation of the statute not to have given a home address if nonetheless he did give an address where the mail would reach him?

Hayden C. Covington:

Well, as I understand the regulation, if we construe the two together, the home address is the one that is required, but if a man gave an address where he would actually be reached, that would not be, I don't think, a violation of the Act because it must be given a reasonable interpretation and not one that would work a forfeiture.

If I -- do I make myself --

Charles E. Whittaker:

We'll that's what my question is.

Hayden C. Covington:


Well, I -- I hope I answered it that when you interpret the two together, as in this case, he gave both.

You see his employer's temporary address as well as the home address.

Charles E. Whittaker:

All I want to do is to make it clear that you are not saying that the failure to give home address is a violation even if he gave an address where he can be --

Hayden C. Covington:

No, that's not my contention.

No, I don't make that contention Justice Whittaker.

Now, the motion for judgment of acquittal raises three points whether as far as the matter of law, the letter of June 7 giving the employer's address and the home address in San Diego and the employer's address at Modesto complied with the regulation, whether or not also that on June -- rather on February the 1st, that they alleged in the indictment, he actually was residing at Modesto at this temporary address given and mail would have reached him, the question of whether or not he actually under all the circumstances had an unlawful intent or willful intent to violate the law under all the facts and circumstances and whether the evidence shows that it -- the evidence is as consistent with innocence as it is with guilt.

And, there is circumstantial evidence involved in this matter on one prong and -- we say that the motion for judgment of acquittal should have been granted for that reason and then we raise the third point, which I don't think I'll have time to argue, but we'll submit on the brief and that is the error of the court in refusing to give instructions 45 and 46.

Now the date alleged in the indictment is February the 1st.

The Court should bear in mind and I believe I submit this with respect and -- but without any authority to back me up except my own opinion about the matter in reading the law and giving it a reasonable interpretation, in the usual case for a specified data is alleged in the indictment, we know that any date proved would be adequate as long as within a reasonable date unless there is a terrific variance that prejudices the defendant.

But in the Selective Service Regulations, each separate day is made a separate offense and there is no continuing duty that can be relied upon unless it is specifically alleged in the indictment as was held by the Ninth Circuit in the Graves case, which is cited in the main brief, Graves against the United States.