Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brogan v. United States case brief

Brogan v. United States case brief summary
522 U.S. 398 (1998)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner union officer sought review of a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which affirmed his conviction for accepting unlawful cash payments from an employer and making a false statement within the jurisdiction of a federal agency in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner union officer was convicted of accepting unlawful cash payments from an employer and making a false statement within the jurisdiction of a federal agency in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001. He argued on appeal that his answer of "no" to agents' questions during initial investigation was an "exculpatory no," the central doctrine being that a simple denial of guilt did not come within § 1001.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed the conviction and held that § 1001 covered "any" false statement, and the word "no" in response to a question assuredly made a "statement." 
  • The court held that the plain language of § 1001 admitted of no exception for an "exculpatory no." 
  • The court held that neither the text nor the spirit of the Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitutional Amendment V, conferred a privilege to lie. 
  • Proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination allowed a witness to remain silent, but not to swear falsely.


CONCLUSION
The court affirmed and held that petitioner union officer's denial of guilt to federal agents during the initial investigation did come within the statute, and the plain language of the statute admitted of no exception for an "exculpatory no." A witness could remain silent, but could not swear falsely.


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