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    PATTON v. U.S., 281 U.S. 276 (1930)

    U.S. Supreme Court

    PATTON v. U.S., 281 U.S. 276 (1930)

    281 U.S. 276

    PATTON et al.
    No. 53.

    Argued Feb. 25, 1930.
    Decided April 14, 1930.

    [281 U.S. 276, 277]   Messrs. Claude Nowlin and J. R. Spielman, both of Oklahoma City, Okl., for Patton and others.

    [281 U.S. 276, 278]   Mr. Charles E. Hughes, Jr. Sol. Gen., of Washington, D. C., for the United States.

    [281 U.S. 276, 286]  

    Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

    The defendants (plaintiffs in error) were indicted in a federal District Court, charged with conspiring to bribe a federal prohibition agent, a crime punishable by imprisonment in a federal penitentiary for a term of year. A jury of twelve men was duly impaneled. The trial began on October 19, 1927, and continued before the jury of twelve until October 26 following, at which time one of the jurors, because of severe illness, became unable to serve further as a juror. Thereupon it was stipulated in open court by the government and counsel for defendants, defendants personally assenting thereto, that the trial should proceed with the remaining eleven jurors. To this stipulation the court consented after stating that the defendants and the government both were entitled to a constitutional jury of twelve, and that the absence of one juror would result in a mistrial unless both sides should waive all objections and agree to a trial before the remaining eleven jurors. Following this statement, the stipulation was renewed in open court by all parties. During the colloquy counsel for defendants stated that he had personally conferred with all counsel and with each of the defendants individually, and it was the desire of all to finish the trial of the case with the eleven jurors [281 U.S. 276, 287]   if the defendants could waive the presence of the twelfth juror.

    The trial was concluded on the following day, and a verdict of guilty was rendered by the eleven jurors. Each of the defendants was sentenced to terms of imprisonmen in the penitentiary on the several counts of the indictment. An appeal was taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals upon the ground that the defendants had no power to waive their constitutional right to a trial by a jury of twelve persons.

    The court below (30 F.(2d) 1015, 1018), being in doubt as to the law applicable to the situation thus presented, and desiring the instruction of this court, has certified the following question:

    The question thus submitted is one of great importance, in respect of which there are differences of opinion among the various lower federal and state courts; but which this court thus far has not been required definitely to answer. There are, however, statements in some of our former opinions, which, if followed, would require a negative answer. These are referred to and relied upon by the defendants.

    The federal Constitution contains two provisions relating to the subject. Article 3, 2, cl. 3, provides:

    [281 U.S. 276, 288]   'The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.'

    The Sixth Amendment provides:

    Passing for later consideration the question whether these provisions, although varying in language, should receive the same interpretation, and whether taken together or separately the effect is to guarantee a right or establish a tribunal as an indispensable part of the government structure, we first inquire what is embraced by the phrase 'trial by jury.' That it means a trial by jury as understood and applied at common law, and includes all the essential elements as they were recognized in this country and England when the Constitution was adopted, is not open to question. Those elements were: (1) That the jury should consist of twelve men, neither more nor less; (2) that the trial should be in the presence and under the superintendence of a judge having power to instruct them as to the law and advise them in respect of the facts; and (3) that the verdict should be unanimous.

    As to the first of these requisites, it is enough to cite Thompson v. Utah, 170 U.S. 343, 350 , 18 S. Ct. 620, 622, where this court [281 U.S. 276, 289]   reversed the conviction of a defendant charged with grand larceny by a jury of eight men, saying:

    The second requisite was expressly dealt with in Capital Traction Company v. Hof, 174 U.S. 1 , 13-16, 19 S. Ct. 580, 585, where it is said:

    The third requisite was held essential in American Publishing Company v. Fisher, 166 U.S. 464, 468 , 17 S. Ct. 618, 619; Springville v. Thomas, 166 U.S. 707 , 17 S. Ct. 717, 41 L. Ed, 1172; Maxwell v. Dow, 176 U.S. 581, 586 , 20 S. Ct. 494. [281 U.S. 276, 290]   These common law elements are embedded in the constitutional provisions above quoted, and are beyond the authority of the legislative department to destroy or abridge. What was said by Mr. Justice Brewer in American Publishing Company v. Fisher, supra, with respect to the requirement of unanimity, is applicable to the other elements as well:

    Any such attempt is vain and ineffectual, whatever form it may take. See In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 594 , 15 S. Ct. 900

    The foregoing principles, while not furnishing a precise basis for an answer to the question here presented, have the useful effect of disclosing the nature and scope of the problem, since they demonstrate the unassailable integrity of the establishment of trial by jury in all its parts, and make clear that a destruction of one of the essential elements has the effect of abridging the right in contravention of the Constitution. It follows that we must reject in limine the distinction sought to be made between the effect of a complete waiver of a jury and consent to be tried by a less number than twelve, and must treat both forms of waiver as in substance amounting to the same thing. In other words, an affirmative answer to the question certified logically requires the conclusion that a person charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term of years may, consistently with the constitutional provisions already quoted, waive trial by a jury of twelve and consent to a trial by any lesser number, or by the court without a jury.

    We are not unmindful of the decisions of some of the state courts holding that it is competent for the defendant to waive the continued presence of a single juror who has become unable to serve, while at the same time deny- [281 U.S. 276, 291]   ing or doubting the validity of a waiver of a considerable number of jurors, or of a jury altogether. See, for example, State v. Kaufman, 51 Iowa, 578, 580, 2 N. W. 275, 33 Am. Rep. 148, with which compare State v. Williams, 195 Iowa, 374, 191 N. W. 790; Commonwealth ex rel. Ross v. Egan, 281 Pa. 251, 256, 126 A. 488, with which compare Commonwealth v. Hall, 291 Pa. 341, 140 A. 626, 58 A. L. R. 1023. But in none of these cases are we able to find any persuasive ground for the distinction.

    Other state courts, with, we think, better reason, have adopted a contrary view. In State v. Baer, 103 Ohio St. 585, 134 N. E. 786, a person charged with manslaughter had been convicted by eleven jurors. The trial began with a jury of twelve, but, one of the jurors becoming incapable of service, the trial was concluded with the remaining eleven. In disposing of the case, the state Supreme Court thought it necessary to consider the broad question (page 589 of 103 Ohio St., 134 N. E. 786, 788): '... Whether the right of trial by jury, as guaranteed by sections 5 and 10 of the Bill of Rights, can be waived.' After an extensive review of the authorities and a discussion of the question on principle, the court concluded that, since it was permissible for an accused person to plead guilty and thus waive any trial, to must necessarily be able to waive a jury trial.

    In Jennings v. State, 134 Wis. 307, 309, 114 N. W. 492, 14 L. R. A. ( N. S.) 862, where, again, a juror during the trial was excused from service because of illness, and the case was continued and concluded before the remaining eleven, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin also disposed of the case as involving the power of the defendant to waive a jury altogether, saying:

    We deem it unnecessary to cite other cases which deal with the problem from the same point of view.

    A constitutional jury means twelve men as though that number had been specifically named; and it follows that, when reduced to eleven, it ceases to be such a jury quite as effectively as though the number had been reduced to a single person. This conclusion seems self evident, and no attempt has been made to overthrow it save by what amounts to little more than a suggestion that by reducing the number of the jury to eleven or ten the infraction of the Constitution is slight, and the courts may be trusted to see that the process of reduction shall not be unduly extended. But the constitutional question cannot thus be settled by the simple process of ascertaining that the infraction assailed is unimportant when compared with similar, but more serious infractions which might be conceived. To uphold the voluntary reduction of a jury from twelve to eleven upon the ground that the reduction-though it destroys the jury of the Constitution-is only a slight reduction, is not to interpret that instrument, but to disregard it. It is not our province to measure the extent to which the Constitution has been contravened and ignore the violation, if, in our opinion, it is not, relatively, as bad as it might have been. [281 U.S. 276, 293]   We come, then, to the crucial inquiry: Is the effect of the constitutional provisions in respect of trial by jury to establish a tribunal as a part of the frame of government, or only to guarantee to the accused the right to such a trial? If the former, the question certified by the lower court must, without more, be answered in the negative.

    Defendants strongly rely upon the language of this court in Thompson v. Utah, supra, at page 353 of 170 U. S., 18 S. Ct. 620, 624:

    But this statement, though positive in form, is not authoritative. The case involved the validity of a statute dispensing with the common-law jury of twelve, and providing for trial by a jury of eight. There was no contention that the defendant Thompson had consented to the trial, but only that he had not objected until after verdict. The effect of an express consent on his part to a trial by a jury of eight was not involved- indeed he had been silent only under constraint of the statute-and what the court said in respect of that matter is, obviously, an obiter dictum.

    Defendants also cite as supporting their contention two decisions of federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, namely, Low v. United States (C. C. A.) 169 F. 86, 92; and Dickinson v. United States (C. C. A.) 159 F. 801. [281 U.S. 276, 294]   In the first of these cases the opinion, rendered by Judge Lurton, afterwards a justice of this court, definitely holds that the waiver of trial of a crime by jury involves setting aside the tribunal constituted by law for that purpose and the substitution by consent of one unknown to the law, and that this cannot be done by consent of the accused and the district attorney. 'Undoubtedly,' the opinion concludes, 'the accused has a right to waive everything which pertains to form and much which is of the structure of a trial. But he may not waive that which concerns both himself and the public, nor any matter which involves fundamentally the jurisdiction of the court. The jurisdiction of the court to pronounce a judgment or conviction for crime, when there has been a plea of not guilty, rests upon the foundation of a verdict by a jury. Without that basis the judgment is void.' This is strong language from a judge whose opinion is entitled to great respect.

    In the second case, involving the completion of a trial by consent with a jury of eleven persons, substantially the same was held; but in a scholarly and thoughtful dissenting opinion, Judge Aldrich reviews the common-law practice upon the subject antedating the Constitution, and in the course of his opinion, after referring to article 3, 2, and the Sixth Amendment, says pages 813-814, 820-821 of 159 F.):

    [281 U.S. 276, 296]   'There is not now, and never was, any practical danger of that. Such a theory, at least in its application to modern American conditions, is based more upon useless fiction than upon reason. And when the idea of giving countenance to the right of waiver, as something necessary to a reasonable protection of the rights and liberties of accused, and as something intended to be practical and useful in the administration of the rights of the parties, has been characterized, as involving innovation 'highly dangerous,' it would, as said by Judge Seevers in State v. Kaufman, 51 Iowa, 578, 581, 2 N. W. 275, 277, 33 Am. Rep. 148, 'have been much more convincing and satisfactory if we had been informed why it would be highly dangerous.' ...

    The record of English and colonial jurisprudence antedating the Constitution will be searched in vain for evidence that trial by jury in criminal cases was regarded as a part of the structure of government, as distinguished from a right or privilege of the accused. On the contrary, it uniformly was regarded as a valuable privilege bestowed upon the person accused of crime for the purpose of safeguarding him against the oppressive power of the King and the arbitrary or partial judgment of the [281 U.S. 276, 297]   court. Thus, Blackstone, who held trial by jury both in civil and criminal cases in such esteem that he called it 'the glory of the English law,' nevertheless looked upon it as a 'privilege,' albeit 'the most transcendent privilege which any subject can enjoy.' Book III, p. 379. And Judge Story, writing at a time when the adoption of the Constitution was still in the memory of men then living, speaking of trial by jury in criminal cases, said:

    In the light of the foregoing it is reasonable to conclude that the framers of the Constitution simply were intent upon preserving the right of trial by jury primarily for the protection of the accused. If not, and their intention went beyond this and included the purpose of establishing the jury for the trial of crimes as an integral and inseparable part of the court, instead of one of its instrumentalities, it is strange that nothing to that effect appears in contemporaneous literature or in any of the debates or innumerable discussions of the time. This is all the more remarkable when we recall the minute scrutiny to which every provision of the proposed Constitution was subjected. The reasonable inference is that the concern of the framers of the Constitution was to make clear that the right of trial by jury should remain inviolable, to which end no language was deemed too imperative. That this was the purpose of the third article is rendered [281 U.S. 276, 298]   highly probable by a consideration of the form of expression used in the Sixth Amendment:

    This provision, which deals with trial by jury clearly in terms of privilege, although occurring later than that in respect of jury trials contained in the original Constitution, is not to be regarded as modifying or altering the earlier provision; and there is no reason for thinking such was within its purpose. The first ten amendments and the original Constitution were substantially contemporaneous and should be construed in pari materia. So construed, the latter provision fairly may be regarded as reflecting the meaning of the former. In other words, the two provisions mean substantially the same thing; and this is the effect of the holding of this court in Callan v. Wilson, 127 U.S. 540, 549 , 8 S. Ct. 1301, 1303, where it is said:

    Upon this view of the constitutional provisions we conclude that article 3, 2, is not jurisdictional, but was meant to confer a right upon the accused which he may forego at his election. To deny his power to do so is to convert a privilege into an imperative requirement.

    But the question remains whether the court is empowered to try the case without a jury; that is to say, whether Congress has vested jurisdiction to that end. We think it has, although some of the state, as well as some of the federal, decisions suggest a different conclusion.

    By the Constitution, art. 3, 1, the judicial power of the United States is vested in the Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may from time to [281 U.S. 276, 299]   time ordain and establish. In pursuance of that authority, Congress, at an early day, established the District and Circuit Courts, and by section 24 of the Judicial Code (U. S. Code, tit. 28, 41(2), 28 USCA 41(2), the Circuit Courts having been abolished, expressly conferred upon the District Courts jurisdiction 'of all crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States.' This is a broad and comprehensive grant, and gives the courts named power to try every criminal case cognizable under the authority of the United States, subject to the controlling provisions of the Constitution. In the absence of a valid consent, the District Court cannot proceed except with a jury, not because a jury is necessary to its jurisdiction, but because the accused is entitled by the terms of the Constitution to that mode of trial. Since, however, the right to a jury trial may be waived, it would be unreasonable to leave the court powerless to give effect to the waiver and itself dispose of the case. We are of opinion that the court has authority in the exercise of a sound discretion to accept the waiver, and, as a necessary corollary, to proceed to the trial and determination of the case with a reduced number or without a jury; and that jurisdiction to that end is vested by the foregoing statutory provisions. The power of waiver being established, this is the clear import of the decision of this court in Schick v. United States, 195 U.S. 65 , 70-71, 24 S. Ct. 826, 828, 1 Ann. Cas. 585:

    After reviewing authorities, it was held that the Supreme Court of the District had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the act which authorized the waiver, and that its action could not be reviewed on habeas corpus.

    In the second case, Riddle, on habeas corpus, assailed a conviction in a federal District Court upon the ground that the jury was composed of only eleven men. This court held that the trial court had jurisdiction, and a record showing upon its face that a lawful jury had been impaneled, sworn, and charged could not be collaterally impeached. The remedy was by writ of error.

    This conclusion in respect of the jurisdiction of the courts, notwithstanding the peremptory words of the third article of the Constitution, is fortified by a consideration of certain provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73). That act was passed shortly after the organization of the government under the Constitution, and on the day preceding the proposal of the first ten amendments by the first Congress. Among the members of that Congress were many who had participated in the [281 U.S. 276, 301]   convention which framed the Constitution, and the act has always been considered, in relation to that instrument, as a contemporaneous exposition of the highest authority. Capital Traction Company v. Hof, supra, pages 9, 10, of 174 U. S., 19 S. Ct. 580, and cases cited. Section 9 of that act provides that 'the trial of issues in (of) fact, in the district courts, in all causes except civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, shall be by jury.' Section 12 provides that 'the trial of issues in (of) fact in the circuit courts shall, in all suits, except those of equity, and of admiralty, and maritime jurisdiction, be by jury.'

    It will be observed that this language is mandatory in form, and is precisely the same as that of article 3, 2, of the Constitution. It is fair to assume that the framers of the statute, in using the words of the Constitution, intended they should have the same meaning; and if the purpose of the latter was jurisdictional, it is not easy to avoid the conclusion that the purpose of the former was the same. But this court had always held, beginning at an early day, that, notwithstanding the imperative language of the statute, it was competent for the parties to waive a trial by jury. The early cases are collected in a foot note to Kearney v. Case, 12 Wall. 275, 281, following the statement:

    The Seventh Amendment, which is here referred to, provides, in respect of suits at common law involving a value exceeding $20, that 'the right of trial [281 U.S. 276, 302]   by jury shall be preserved'; and it is significant that this language and the positive provision of the statute that 'the trial of issues in fact ... shall be by jury' were regarded as synonymous.

    Another ground frequently relied upon for denying the power of a person accused of a serious crime to waive trial by jury is that such a proceeding is against public policy. The decisions are conflicting. The leading case in support of the proposition, and one which has influenced other decisions advancing similar views, is Cancemi v. People, 18 N. Y. 128, 137-138. In that case Cancemi was indicted for the crime of murder. After a jury had been impaneled and sworn, and the trial begun, under a stipulation made by the prisoner and his counsel and counsel for the people, and with the express consent and request of the prisoner, a juror was withdrawn, and a verdict subsequently rendered by the remaining eleven jurors. On appeal a judgment based upon this verdict was reversed. The case was decided in 1858, and the question was regarded by the court as one of first impression. The following excerpt from the opinion indicates the basis of the decision:

    Ad decision flatly to the contrary, and one fairly representative of others to the same effect, is State v. Kaufman, 51 Iowa, 578, 2 N. W. 275, 33 Am. Rep. 148. The defendant there was indicted [281 U.S. 276, 304]   for forgery. Upon the trial, one of the jurors, being ill, was discharged with the consent of the defendant, and the trial concluded with the remaining eleven. There was a verdict of guilty. Upon appeal the verdict was upheld. The authorities upon the question are reviewed, and in the course of the opinion the court says at pages 579-580 of 51 Iowa, 2 N. W. 275, 276, 33 Am. Rep. 148:

    See, also, State v. Sackett, 39 Minn. 69, at page 72, 38 N. W. 773, 775, where the court concludes its discussion of the subject by saying:

    It is difficult to see why the fact, frequently suggested, that the accused may plead guilty and thus dispense with a trial altogether, does not effectively disclose the fallacy of the public policy contention; for if the state may interpose the claim of public interest between the accused and his desire to waive a jury trial, a fortiori it should be able to interpose a like claim between him and his determination to avoid any form of trial by admitting his guilt. If he be free to decide the question for himself in the latter case, notwithstanding the interest of society in the preservation of his life and liberty, why should he be denied the power to do so in the former? It is no answer to say that by pleading guilty there is nothing left for a jury to try, for that simply ignores the question, which is not [281 U.S. 276, 306]   what is the effect of the plea, the answer to which is fairly obvious, but, in view of the interest of the public in the life and liberty of the accused, can the plea be accepted and acted upon, or must the question of guilt be submitted to a jury at all events? Moreover, the suggestion is wholly beside the point, which is that public policy is not so inconsistent as to permit the accused to dispense with every form of trial by a plea of guilty, and yet forbid him to dispense with a particular form of trial by consent.

    The truth is that the theory of public policy embodies a doctrine of vague and variable quality, and, unless deducible in the given circumstances from constitutional or statutory provisions, should be accepted as the basis of a judicial determination, if at all, only with the utmost circumspection. The public policy of one generation may not, under changed conditions, be the public policy of another.

    It may be conceded, at least generally, that under the rule of the common law the accused was not permitted to waive trial by jury, as generally he was not permitted to waive any right which was intended for his protection. Nevertheless, in the Colonies such a waiver and trial by the court without a jury was by no means unknown, as the many references contained in the brief of the Solicitor General conclusively show. But this phase of the matter we do not stop to consider, for the rule of the common law, whether exclusive or subject to exceptions, was justified by conditions which no longer exist; and as the Supreme Court of Nevada well said in Reno Smelting Works v. Stevenson, 20 Nev. 269, 279, 21 P. 317, 320, 4 L. R. A. 60, 19 Am. St. Rep. 364:

    These conditions have ceased to exist, and with their disappearance justification for the old rule, no longer rests upon a substantial basis. In this respect we fully agree with what was said by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Hack v. State, 141 Wis. 346, 351-352, 124 N. W. 492, 494, 45 L. R. A. (N. S.) 664:

    The view that power to waive a trial by jury in criminal cases should be denied on grounds of public policy must be rejected as unsound.

    It is not denied that a jury trial may be waived in the case of petty offenses, but the contention is that the rule is otherwise in the case of crimes of the magnitude of the one here under consideration. There are decisions to that effect, and also decisions to the contrary. The conflict is marked and direct. Schick v. United States, supra, is thought to favor the contention. There the prosecution [281 U.S. 276, 309]   was for a violation of the Oleomargarine Act (24 Stat. 209), punishable by fine only. By agreement is writing a jury was waived and the issue submitted to the court. Judgment was for the United States. This court held that the offense was a petty one, and sustained the waiver. It was said that the word 'crimes' in article 3, 2, of the Constitution, should be read in the light of the common law, and, so read, it does not include petty offenses; and that neither the constitutional provisions nor any rule of public policy prevented the defendant from waiving a jury trial. The question whether the power of waiver extended to serious offenses was not directly involved, and is not concluded by that decision. Mr. Justice Harlan, in a dissenting opinion, after reviewing the authorities, concluded (page 83 of 195 U. S., 24 S. Ct. 826, 833, 1 Ann. Cas. 585) that: 'The grounds upon which the decisions rest are, upon principle, applicable alike in cases of felonies and misdemeanors, although the consequences to the accused may be more evident as well as more serious in the former than in the latter cases.'

    Although we reject the general view of the dissenting opinion that a waiver of jury trial is not valid in any criminal case, we accept the foregoing statement as entirely sound. We are unable to find in the decisions any convincing ground for holding that a waiver is effective in misdemeanor cases, but not effective in the case of felonies. In most of the decisions no real attempt is made to establish a distinction, beyond the assertion that public policy favors the power of waiver in the former, but denies it in the latter because of the more serious consequences in the form of punishment which may ensue. But that suggested differentation, in the light of what has now been said, seems to us more fanciful than real. The Schick Case, it is true, dealt with a petty offense, but, in view of the conclusions we have already [281 U.S. 276, 310]   reached and stated, the observations of the court (pages 71, 72 of 195 U. S., 24 S. Ct. 826, 828) have become equally pertinent where a felony is involved:

    In Commonwealth v. Beard, 48 Pa. Super. Ct. 319, the prosecution was for conspiracy, and there, as here, one of the jurors was discharged and the trial concluded with the remaining eleven. Judgment on a verdict of conviction was sustained. The court, after reviewing the conflicting decisions, was unable to find any good reason for differentiating in the matter of waiver between the two classes of crimes. We fully indorse its concluding words upon that subject at pages 323-324:

    This view of the matter subsequently had the approval of the Supreme Court of the state in Commonwealth ex rel. Ross v. Egan, 281 Pa. 251, 126 A. 488. After noting the conflict of authority, and that a waiver has been held to be effective in a number of states which are named, it is there said at pages 255, 256, 257 of 281 Pa., 126 A. 488, 490:

    [281 U.S. 276, 312]   'The solution of the question depends upon the determination whether a trial by less than 12 is an irregularity or a nullity. If the latter be held, no sentence imposed may be sustained, but the contrary is true, if the former and correct conclusion be reached. In the case of misdemeanors, the Superior Court has sustained the sentences where a voluntary waiver appeared. Com. v. Beard, supra. No real justification for a different decision in the case of felonies, not capital, can be supported.'

    See, also, Commonwealth v. Rowe, 257 Mass. 172, 174-176, 153 N. E. 537, 48 A. L. R. 762; State v. Ross, 47 S. D. 188, 192-193, 197 N. W. 234, involving a misdemeanor, but followed in State v. Tiedeman, 49 S. D. 356, 360, 207 N. W. 153, involving a felony.

    In affirming the power of the defendant in any criminal case to waive a trial by a constitutional jury and submit to trial by a jury of less than twelve persons, or by the court, we do not mean to hold that the waiver must be put into effect at all events. That perhaps sufficiently appears already. Trial by jury is the normal and, with occasional exceptions, the preferable mode of disposing of issues of fact in criminal cases above the grade of petty offenses. In such cases the value and appropriateness of jury trial have been established by long experience, and are not now to be denied. Not only must the right of the accused to a trial by a constitutional jury be jealously preserved, but the maintenance of the jury as a fact-finding body in criminal cases is of such importance and has such a place in our traditions, that, before any waiver can become effective, the consent of government counsel and the sanction of the court must be had, in addition to the express and intelligent consent of the defendant. And the duty of the trial court in that regard is not to be discharged as a mere matter of rote, but with sound and advised discretion, with an eye to avoid unreasonable or undue departures from that mode of [281 U.S. 276, 313]   trial or from any of the essential elements thereof, and with a caution increasing in degree as the offenses dealt with increase in gravity.

    The question submitted must be answered in the affirmative.

    It is so ordered.

    Mr. Justice HOLMES, Mr. Justice BRANDEIS, and Mr. Justice STONE concur in the result.

    The CHIEF JUSTICE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

    Mr. Justice SANFORD participated in the consideration and agreed to a disposition of the case in accordance with this opinion.

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