SHOTWELL MFG. CO. V. UNITED STATES, 371 U. S. 341 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Shotwell Mfg. Co. v. United States, 371 U.S. 341 (1963)

Shotwell Mfg. Co. v. United States

No. 16

Argued October 11, 15, 1962

Decided January 14, 1963

371 U.S. 341


In a jury trial in a Federal District Court, petitioners were convicted in 1953 of willfully attempting to evade federal corporate income taxes. They claim that their privilege against self-incrimination was violated by the admission of evidence obtained as a result of voluntary disclosures made by them in good faith in reliance upon the Treasury's then "voluntary disclosure policy," i.e., that delinquent taxpayers could escape possible criminal prosecution by disclosing their derelictions to the tax authorities before any investigation of them had commenced. After remand by this Court, 255 U. S. 233, the District Court held an additional full evidentiary hearing and again denied suppression of such evidence, finding that "no honest bona fide voluntary disclosure" had ever been made and that fraud had "permeated" petitioners' disclosure showing at both suppression hearings and at the trial. The District Court also denied motions for a new trial and overruled challenges, made for the first time in 1957, to the original grand jury and petit jury arrays. The Court of Appeals sustained these findings and rulings, overruled other challenges to the remand and original trial proceedings, and affirmed the convictions.

Held: the judgment is affirmed. Pp. 371 U. S. 343-367.

1. In view of the facts that no bona fide honest disclosure ever had been made in reliance on the "voluntary disclosure policy," and that the purported disclosure was a further effort to perpetrate a fraud on the Government, admission of the evidence so obtained did not violate petitioners' privilege against self-incrimination. Pp. 371 U. S. 346-352.

(a) Rejected as specious is petitioners' suggestion that the District Court's finding of fraud is infirm because the falsity of Shotwell's black market payments, on which that finding principally rested, was an immaterial consideration in view of the Commissioner's then ruling that black market payments were not includible in the cost of goods sold. Pp. 371 U. S. 346-347.

Page 371 U. S. 342

(b) The Treasury's "voluntary disclosure" policy, addressed to the public generally and not to particular individuals, was not an invitation aimed at extracting confessions of guilt from particular known or suspected delinquent taxpayers, and the privilege against self-incrimination does not apply to disclosures made in reliance on that policy. Pp. 371 U. S. 347-349.

(c) Even if petitioners had been initially justified in relying on the Treasury's general offer of immunity, they were no longer entitled to rely upon it when they decided to make a fraudulent disclosure. Pp. 371 U. S. 349-350.

(d) What is involved here is not a case of incriminatory evidence having been induced by the Government, but one in which petitioners attempted to hoodwink the Government into what would have been a flagrant misapplication of its voluntary disclosure policy. P. 371 U. S. 352.

2. The record does not support petitioners' contention that the District Court should have ordered a new trial because it appeared at the second suppression hearing that an important Government witness had testified falsely at the trial respecting the amount of his black market payments to the corporate petitioner. Pp. 371 U. S. 352-357.

3. There is no truth in petitioners' charges that the remand proceedings were the product of fraud and other gross improprieties on the part of the Government, and that they should, therefore, be held for naught. Pp. 371 U. S. 357-361.

4. The two lower courts correctly held that petitioners' motions attacking the grand and petit jury arrays, filed more than four years after the trial, were untimely under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12 (b)(2), and their further finding that petitioners were not prejudiced in any way by the alleged illegalities in the selection of the juries supports the conclusion that a sufficient showing had not been made to warrant relief from the effect of that Rule. Pp. 371 U. S. 361-364.

5. The record does not sustain the contention of petitioner Sullivan that he was denied a fair trial because (1) the only specific evidence against him was an alleged admission which a government witness testified Sullivan had made to him, and the government witness had later recanted that testimony; and (2) the trial judge's instructions allowed the jury to consider evidence that had not been admitted against him. Pp. 371 U. S. 364-367.

Page 371 U. S. 343

(a) There was ample evidence in the record to carry the case against Sullivan to the jury and to support its verdict of guilt. Pp. 371 U. S. 364-365.

(b) There was no error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury that certain evidence was not being admitted against Sullivan, and should not be considered against him, and it must be presumed that the jury conscientiously observed such instructions. Pp. 371 U. S. 365-367.

287 F.2d 667 affirmed.

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