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CAMPBELL V. UNITED STATES, 365 U. S. 85 (1961)

U.S. Supreme Court

Campbell v. United States, 365 U.S. 85 (1961)

Campbell v. United States

No. 53

Argued December 6, 1960

Decided January 23, 1961

365 U.S. 85


During a trial in a Federal District Court at which petitioners were convicted of a federal crime, a government witness testified on cross-examination that, while being interviewed by a federal agent, he had made and signed a statement which had been written down by the agent. On motion of petitioners under the so-called Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3500, the Court directed the Government to produce the document. Government counsel denied possession of such a document, but admitted possession of a report written by a federal agent summarizing an interview with that witness. The trial judge held an inquiry in the jury's absence, at the conclusion of which he refused to order the Government to deliver the agent's report to petitioners and also denied their motion to strike the testimony of the witness. He showed the report to the witness, who denied that it was his statement, and he refused to call as a witness the agent who made the report, though he said that the defendants could do so if they wished.


1. Because of errors in the conduct of the inquiry, petitioners are entitled to a reexamination of their motion for production of the witness' pretrial statements and their motion to strike his testimony. Pp. 365 U. S. 86-98.

(a) The circumstances of this case required that the judge, of his own motion, call the agent who signed the report or require the Government to do so, since the agent was readily available and could explain where he got the information and what had become of the original writing. Pp. 365 U. S. 94-96.

(b) The judge erred in relying upon the witness to supply the information he sought, since the very question to be determined was whether the defense should have the document for use in cross-examining the witness and possibly impeaching his testimony. Pp. 365 U. S. 96-98.

(c) Failure of the judge to call for the testimony of the agent who signed the report foreclosed a proper determination of petitioners' motion to strike the testimony of the witness. P. 365 U. S. 98.

Page 365 U. S. 86

(d) The record affords this Court no opportunity to decide the important question as to the construction and application of 18 U.S.C. § 3500(d), since it does not show whether such a paper as that described by the witness existed and was destroyed, or the circumstances of its destruction, nor can it be known without the benefit of the testimony of the agent who interviewed the witness and prepared the report. P. 365 U. S. 98.

2. The judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the conviction is vacated, and the case is remanded to the District Court for further proceedings. Pp. 365 U. S. 98-99.

(a) The District Court is directed to hold a new inquiry consistent with this opinion, to supplement the record with new findings, and to enter a new final judgment of conviction if it concludes to reaffirm its former rulings. Pp. 365 U. S. 98-99.

(b) If the District Court concludes that the Government should have been required to deliver the report or other statement to petitioners, or that it should have granted their motion to strike the witness' testimony, it will vacate the judgment of conviction and grant petitioners a new trial. P. 365 U. S. 99.

269 F.2d 688, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

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