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United States v. Wall

September 28, 1955


Author: Schnackenberg

Before DUFFY, Chief Judge, and FINNEGAN and SCHNACKENBERG, Circuit Judges.


Defendant seeks by this appeal a reversal of the district court's judgment convicting him, upon the verdict of a jury which found him guilty of receiving "for personal emolument money, to wit, $400.00, from one Robert Birdsong in consideration of a promise of support and the use of influence in obtaining for the said Robert Birdsong an appointment to the position of Clerk in Charge in the United States Post Office at Chicago, Illinois, an appointive office and place under the United States," in violation of Section 215, Title 18 U.S.C.A.

Defendant relies in this court on the following alleged errors in the district court: (1) The admission of evidence of other alleged offenses wholly independent of the offense charged, (2) failure to grant defendant's motion for acquittal at the conclusion of all the evidence, and (3) failure to quash the indictment.

To the extent that they are pertinent to the alleged errors, the facts which the evidence tended to prove we now set forth.

Robert Birdsong, testifying for the government, said that in December 1949 he talked to defendant, whom he knew to be a congressman's secretary, at the defendant's office in Chicago, and asked defendant if he could help him get promoted to a supervisory grade at the Chicago post office. Defendant said he would check into the matter and suggested Birdsong get in touch with him at a later date. Early in January 1950, by telephone appointment, he saw defendant again, at which time defendant said that he had checked and found Birdsong had a good record and he thought something could be done about it.

Prior to February 11, 1950, and several weeks after the last meeting just mentioned, defendant at his office told Birdsong that he had been working on his case and he thought it could be done, although it would be very difficult.

Pursuant to defendant's instructions, Birdsong saw defendant at his office again on February 11, 1950, when he asked if there were any new developments. Defendant told him it could be done, although very difficult to do. Birdsong asked defendant "how much would it take" and defendant said "$400.00 is usually asked" and "$400.00 is the usual amount". Birdsong asked "if he would take a check". Defendant replied, "Are you kidding?" Birdsong said he would bring the money the following week.

On February 14, 1950, at the same office, Birdsong told defendant that he had brought the money and thereupon produced it in an assortment of bills. Defendant counted them, put the money in an envelope, put Birdsong's name and telephone number on the envelope and placed it in his desk drawer, saying to Birdsong "that he keeps his word". Birdsong borrowed $300 on an automobile loan and used $100 of his own money in making up the $400 paid to defendant. The loan was made on the morning of the day that he gave the money to defendant. Defendant gave Birdsong no receipt for the money. Almost two years later, Birdsong was promoted, without taking an examination.

Fred A. Haase was then in charge of the postmaster and executive files in the postmaster's office in Chicago and he saw defendant in that office a number of times. Defendant talked to Haase on many occasions, one of the subjects being in reference to complaints made against certain employees.

Elmer L. Beard, a postal employee, in March 1949 talked with defendant concerning a promotion, and in April, 1949 he asked defendant if anything had been done in behalf of his promotion. Defendant said that to hasten the promotion would cost $400. On April 30, 1949, he gave $400 to defendant at his office and he was promoted to assistant superintendent on July 1, 1949.

Charles I. Stuart, a post office clerk, was told by defendant on June 15, 1949 that he had found someone who would enter a plea for promotion for Stuart. Stuart delivered $300 to defendant on June 19, 1949. He did not receive a promotion.

1. The general rule is that, upon the trial of an accused person, evidence of another offense, wholly independent of the one charged is inadmissible. This rule is, however, subject to some well established exceptions. In Bracey v. United States, 79 U.S.App.D.C. 23, 142 F.2d 85, at page 87, the court said:

"However, there are many well established exceptions to this rule, raised by the special circumstances of particular cases; to the end that all relevant facts and circumstances tending to establish any of the constituent elements of the crime of which the defendant is accused may be made to appear. Thus, evidence of other criminal acts has been held admissible by this court when they are so blended or connected with the one on trial as that proof of one incidentally involves the other; or explains the circumstances thereof; or tends logically to prove any element of the crime charged. Such evidence is admissible if it is so related to or connected with the crime charged as to establish a common scheme or purpose so associated that proof ...

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