DUNN V. UNITED STATES, 442 U. S. 100 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dunn v. United States, 442 U.S. 100 (1979)

Dunn v. United States

No. 77-6949

Argued March 28, 1979

Decided June 4, 1979

442 U.S. 100


Petitioner's testimony before a grand jury in June, 1976, implicated one Musgrave in various drug-related offenses, and an indictment of Musgrave followed. On September 30, 1976, petitioner recanted his testimony in an oral statement made under oath in the office of Musgrave's attorney. Musgrave then moved to dismiss his indictment, alleging that it was based on perjured testimony. At an evidentiary hearing on this motion on October 21, 1976, petitioner adopted his September 30 statement and testified that only a small part of his grand jury testimony was true. As a result, the charges against Musgrave were reduced. Petitioner was subsequently indicted for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1623 (1976 ed., Supp. 1), which prohibits false declarations made under oath "in any proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury." The indictment charged that petitioner's grand jury testimony was inconsistent with statements made "on September 30, 1976, while under oath as a witness in a proceeding ancillary to" the Musgrave prosecution. At trial, the Government introduced, over petitioner's objection, pertinent parts of his grand jury testimony, his testimony at the evidentiary hearing, and his sworn statement to Musgrave's attorney. Petitioner was convicted, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Although it agreed with petitioner that the September interview in the attorney's office was not an ancillary proceeding under § 1623, the court concluded that the October 21 hearing was such a proceeding. While acknowledging that the indictment specified the September 30 interview, rather than the October 21 hearing, as the ancillary proceeding, the court construed this discrepancy as a nonprejudicial variance between the indictment and the proof at trial.


1. Since the indictment and jury instructions specified the September 30 interview as the ancillary proceeding, the Court of Appeals erred in predicating its affirmance on petitioner's October 21 testimony. To uphold a conviction on a charge that was neither alleged in an indictment nor presented to a jury offends the most basic notions of due process. Although the jury might well have reached the same verdict had the prosecution built its case on petitioner's October 21 testimony adopting chanrobles.com-red

Page 442 U. S. 101

his September 30 statement, rather than on the latter statement itself, the offense was not so defined, and appellate courts are not free to revise the basis on which a defendant is convicted simply because the same result would likely obtain on retrial. Pp. 442 U. S. 105-107.

2. As both the language and legislative history of Title IV of the 1970 Organized Crime Control Act make clear, an interview in a private attorney's office at which a sworn statement is given does not constitute a "proceeding ancillary to a court or grand jury" within the meaning of § 1623. Moreover, to characterize such an interview as an ancillary proceeding would contravene the long-established practice of resolving doubt concerning the ambit of criminal statutes in favor of lenity. Pp. 442 U. S. 107-113.

577 F.2d 119, reversed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined, except POWELL, J.J who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.


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