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SHAPIRO v. UNITED STATES

December 14, 1914

SHAPIRO
v.
UNITED STATES



ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney, McReynolds

Author: Hughes

[ 235 U.S. Page 413]

 MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.

On June 21, 1910, David Shapiro -- the plaintiff in error -- was indicted for violation of the Internal Revenue Laws. The indictment contained thirteen counts. Eleven charged offenses punishable by both fine and imprisonment; one (the tenth) was for an offense punishable by fine only; and one (the thirteenth) was for an offense punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both.*fn1 On June 24, 1910, the plaintiff in error pleaded 'not guilty' to every count; on January 3, 1911, 'by leave of court first had and obtained,' he withdrew this plea, and, being then arraigned upon the indictment, he pleaded ' nolo contendere thereto'; on January 20, 1911, the United States entered a nolle prosequi as to all the counts, save those numbered 4, 9 and 12, each of which charged a felony (Crim. Code, ยง 335); later, on the same day, the cause 'coming on to be heard on defendant's plea of nolo contendere, ' the court 'having heard the evidence by the parties adduced and statements of counsel' took the cause under advisement; and on January 23, 1911, the court being fully advised found the defendant guilty as charged in the indictment, and upon this finding sentenced him to imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine in the sum of $10,000 in addition to costs.

Shapiro sued out a writ of error from the Circuit Court of Appeals, assigning as errors (1) that the District Court had no jurisdiction to pass judgment in this case on a plea of nolo contendere; (2) that it erred in sentencing him without a trial by jury; (3) that by the judgment he had been deprived of his liberty without due process of law, within

[ 235 U.S. Page 414]

     the meaning of the Fifth Amendment; and (4) that the sentence was excessive and should be limited to a fine only. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment. 196 Fed. Rep. 268. The grounds of the reversal are set forth in its opinion in Tucker v. United States, 196 Fed. Rep. 260, -- a case, decided at the same time, which the court deemed to be similar in all material respects. It was held that the plea of nolo contendere was not authorized in the case of an offense which must be punished by imprisonment, with or without a fine; that where counts charging offenses which must be punished by imprisonment are joined with counts charging those which may be punished by fine only, the plea may be entertained as 'in the nature of a compromise'; and that in such case it is 'within the authority of the prosecuting officer to elect to stand, for the purposes of the plea, on the counts applicable thereto,' and it is 'within the jurisdiction of the court to approve such submission.' It was further held that in the particular case the proceedings and judgment were in derogation of the plea; that it did not appear in the record that the plea was either 'accepted in fact' or 'substantially so treated'; that the proceedings leading to the judgment, the adjudication of guilt, and the judgment itself in its sentence of imprisonment, were inconsistent with the acceptance of the plea; and hence that the record failed to show an authorized plea to support the judgment. Id., pp. 267, 268. The cause was remanded 'with direction either to accept or refuse acceptance of the nolo contendere plea as tendered, and proceed thereupon in conformity with law.'

Thereupon, the District Court, against the exception of the plaintiff in error, refused to accept the plea of nolo contendere tendered by him and directed him to plead to the indictment; he stood mute, and the court entered for him a plea of not guilty. Subsequently, by leave of the court, the plaintiff in error filed three special pleas. The first

[ 235 U.S. Page 415]

     plea, in substance, set forth the prior proceedings and alleged that the plea of nolo contendere had been duly accepted, that the court acting thereon had heard evidence solely for the purpose of fixing the punishment to be imposed, and that therefore he had been once before in jeopardy for the same offense and ought not, by virtue of the protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, to be further prosecuted. The second special plea set forth that the defendant had compromised the civil and criminal liability with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. And the third special plea urged that, while the writ of error was pending in the Circuit Court of Appeals, the original order of supersedeas had been modified so as to permit the judgment to be enforced as to the fine, that thereupon the United States had procured to be seized a certain draft for $5,000 in partial satisfaction of the fine, and that it followed under the Fifth Amendment that, the judgment having been satisfied in part, the plaintiff in error could not be tried again upon the same indictment.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff in error moved in the District Court to correct the record so as to have it show that the plea of nolo contendere had been accepted, and petitioned the Circuit Court of Appeals to release its mandate in order that the correction might be made. This petition was denied and the motion in the District Court was not pressed.

The Government demurred to each of the three special pleas and the District Court, sustaining the demurrers, proceeded to trial. The jury rendered a verdict of guilty, motions for a new trial and in arrest were overruled, and the plaintiff in error was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of $5,000. He case is now brought directly to this court.

The motion to dismiss must be granted. Aspen Mining Co. v. Billings, 150 U.S. 31; Brown v. Alton Water Co., 222 U.S. 325; Metropolitan ...


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