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HAWKINS V. UNITED STATES, 358 U. S. 74 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hawkins v. United States, 358 U.S. 74 (1958)

Hawkins v. United States

No. 20

Argued October 14, 1958

Decided November 24, 1958

358 U.S. 74


At petitioner's trial in a Federal District Court in which he was convicted of violating the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2421, by transporting a girl from Arkansas to Oklahoma for immoral purposes, his wife was permitted to testify against him over his objection.

Held: though the wife did not object to testifying, admission of her testimony over his objection was error. Pp. 358 U. S. 74-81.

(a) Though Congress or this Court, by decision or under its rulemaking power, can change or modify the rule where reason or experience dictates, and some specific exceptions have been made, this Court is not now prepared to abandon so much of the old common law rule as forbade one spouse to testify against the other over the latter's objection. Pp. 358 U. S. 75-79.

(b) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that the wife's testimony did not have substantial influence on the jury, and its admission was not harmless error. Pp. 358 U. S. 79-81.

249 F.2d 735, reversed.

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