UNITED STATES v. DEBROW.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT. *
Argued October 20, 1953.
Decided November 16, 1953.
The indictments of respondents under 18 U.S.C. 1621 for perjury in wilfully testifying falsely to material facts, after each had "duly taken an oath," before a Senatorial subcommittee duly created and duly authorized to administer oaths, complied with Rule 7 (c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; and they should not have been dismissed for failure to allege the name of the person who administered the oaths or his authority to do so. Pp. 375-378.
[ Footnote * ] Together with No. 52, United States v. Wilkinson; No. 53, United States v. Brashier; No. 54, United States v. Rogers; and No. 55, United States v. Jackson, all on certiorari to the same court.
The District Court dismissed indictments of the respondents for perjury. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 203 F.2d 699. This Court granted certiorari. 345 U.S. 991 . Reversed, p. 378.
John F. Davis argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Acting Solicitor General Stern, Assistant Attorney General Olney, Beatrice Rosenberg and Felicia H. Dubrovsky.
Ben F. Cameron argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were W. S. Henley, R. W. Thompson, Jr., Albert Sidney Johnston, Jr., W. W. Dent and T. J. Wills. [346 U.S. 374, 375]
MR. JUSTICE MINTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
The respondents here, defendants below, were charged by separate indictments with the crime of perjury, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1621. 1 Each indictment read in material part as follows:
An indictment is required to set forth the elements of the offense sought to be charged.
The oath administered must be authorized by a law of the United States. This requirement is met by the allegations in the indictments that the defendants had "duly taken an oath." "Duly taken" means an oath taken according to a law which authorizes such oath. See Robertson v. Perkins, 129 U.S. 233, 236 . The name of the person who administered the oath is not an essential element of the crime of perjury; the identity of such person goes only to the proof of whether the defendants were duly sworn. Therefore, all the essential elements of the offense of perjury were alleged.
The source of the requirement that an indictment for perjury must aver the name and authority of the person who administered the oath is to be found in R. S. 5396, 18 U.S.C. (1940 ed.) 558. It may be worthy of note that this provision was expressly repealed by Congress in 1948, 62 Stat. 862, in the revision and recodification of Title 18. The House Committee on Revision of the Laws had the assistance of two special consultants who were members of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and who "rendered invaluable service in the technical task of singling out for repeal or revision the statutory provisions made obsolete by the new Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure." H. R. Rep. No. 304, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 4. In the tabulation of laws omitted and repealed by the revision, it is stated that R. S. 5396 was repealed because "Covered by rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure." Id., at A214.
The charges of the indictments followed substantially the wording of the statute, which embodies all the elements of the crime, and such charges clearly informed the [346 U.S. 374, 378] defendants of that with which they were accused, so as to enable them to prepare their defense and to plead the judgment in bar of any further prosecutions for the same offense. It is inconceivable to us how the defendants could possibly be misled as to the offense with which they stood charged. The sufficiency of the indictment is not a question of whether it could have been more definite and certain. If the defendants wanted more definite information as to the name of the person who administered the oath to them, they could have obtained it by requesting a bill of particulars. Rule 7 (f), F. R. Crim. Proc.
The indictments were sufficient, and the dismissal thereof was error. The judgments are