Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sherman v. United States case brief

Sherman v. United States case brief summary
356 U.S. 369 (1958)

Petitioner's conviction for the sale of narcotics was reversed based on improper instructions regarding the issue of entrapment. Petitioner was convicted for the sale of narcotics after a second trial. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction. Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari in challenging his conviction.

Petitioner met a government informant at a doctor's office. Both were supposedly being treated for narcotics addiction. After a period of time and other chance meetings, the informant finally prevailed upon petitioner to give information as to where the informant might purchase narcotics. When petitioner began paying for the narcotics and sharing them, the informant alerted the government agents for whom he was working and petitioner was arrested. At trial, the issue was whether the informer had convinced an otherwise unwilling person to commit a criminal act or whether petitioner was already predisposed to commit the act and exhibited only the natural hesitancy of one acquainted with the narcotics trade. The issue went to the jury, and petitioner was convicted. On appeal, petitioner argued that he was entrapped.

  • The Court granted certiorari and held that entrapment had been established as a matter of law. 
  • Petitioner had been induced to commit the offense by the informant who subsequently received a suspended sentence for his own pending criminal charges. 
  • The conviction of petitioner should rightfully have been set aside.


The Court reversed petitioner's conviction for the sale of narcotics and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the indictment.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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