MORFORD v. UNITED STATES.
ON PETITION FOR CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT. No. 236.
Decided April 10, 1950.
Petitioner, who is Executive Director of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, Inc., was convicted in the District of Columbia of violating R. S. 102, 2 U.S.C. 192, by willfully refusing to produce certain documents before the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives in compliance with a subpoena duly served upon him. On voir dire examination, counsel for petitioner was not permitted to question government employees on the jury panel with specific reference to the possible influence of Executive Order 9835, the so-called "Loyalty Order," on their ability to render a just and impartial verdict; and four government employees were permitted to serve on the jury over his objection. Held: The conviction is reversed because of this denial of an opportunity to prove actual bias on the part of the government employees who served on the jury. P. 259.
85 U.S. App. D.C. 172, 176 F.2d 54, reversed.
Petitioner, who is Executive Director of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, Inc., was indicted in the District of Columbia for violating R. S. 102, 2 U.S.C. 192, by willfully refusing to produce certain documents before the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives in compliance with the subpoena duly served upon him. Four government employees served on the jury over his objection, and he was convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 85 U.S. App. D.C. 172, 176 F.2d 54. Certiorari granted and conviction reversed, p. 259.
Abraham J. Isserman, David Rein and Joseph Forer for petitioner. [339 U.S. 258, 259]
Solicitor General Perlman, Assistant Attorney General Campbell and Robert S. Erdahl for the United States.
Briefs of amici curiae supporting petitioner were filed by William L. Standard for the Committee for a Democratic Far Eastern Policy and for the Congress of American Women; Victor Rabinowitz, Nathan Witt and Leonard B. Boudin for the American Communications Association (CIO) et al.; Leo J. Linder for the Methodist Federation for Social Action; Lester M. Levin for the National Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions; and John J. Abt for the Progressive Party of America et al.
In this case the trial court did not permit counsel for petitioner to interrogate prospective government employee jurors upon voir dire examination with specific reference to the possible influence of the "Loyalty Order," Executive Order No. 9835, on their ability to render a just and impartial verdict. Such questioning was permitted in Dennis v. United States, ante, p. 162; see n. 4 of the Court's opinion, ante, pp. 170-171.
We said in Dennis that "Preservation of the opportunity to prove actual bias is a guarantee of a defendant's right to an impartial jury." Ante, pp. 171-172. Since that opportunity was denied in this case, the petition for writ of certiorari is granted and the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurs in the reversal of the judgment. Since, however, counsel requested that all [339 U.S. 258, 260] government employees be excluded from the jury in these cases, he thinks the request should have been granted for the reasons stated by the dissenting Justices in Frazier v. United States, 335 U.S. 497 , and in Dennis v. United States, ante, p. 162.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. [339 U.S. 258, 261]