Legislative Summary: Judicial


Bad Check Offenses 
H.R. 7657 — Public Law 87-385approved October 4, 1961 
Amends the Uniform Code of Military Justice by adding section 923a which would make specific the terms of the authority for prosecution of bad check offenses, thus creating a specific statutory authority for such a prosecution against members of the Armed Forces. None of the statutes under which violations are now prosecuted are entirely appropriate due to numerous technical problems in pleading or proving any bad check case.

Espionage Laws —  Extension 
H.R. 2730 — Public Law 87-369approved October 4, 1961 
Deletes section 791 of title 18 of the United States Code, which has the inadvertent effect of limiting venue relative to acts of espionage and censorship, to acts committed in the United States or within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States. By repealing this section, venue will be extended worldwide as to citizens of the United States committing these acts. 

False Bomb Information 
H.R. 6834 — Public Law 87-338, approved October 3, 1961 
Strengthens the present law on imparting false bomb information by making it a misdemeanor knowingly (but without malice) to impart or convey such false information, and by making it a felony to convey such false information willfully and maliciously or with a reckless disregard for human life. 

Fugitive Felon Act 
H.R. 468 — Public Law 87-368, approved October 4, 1961 
To combat organized crime and racketeering, this bill amends the Fugitive Felon Act to bring within its scope any fugitive who travels in interstate or foreign commerce to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction, for any crime or any attempt to commit any crime, punishable by death or imprisonment for a term of more than 1 year under the laws of the place from which the fugitive fled. 

Racketeering Enterprises 
S. 1653 — Public Law 87-228, approved September 13, 1961 
Prohibits the use of the mail or any transportation in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of distributing the proceeds of any unlawful activities (business enterprises involving gambling, bootlegging, narcotics, or prostitution or investigations of narcotic or liquor law violations). Also prohibits the use of mails or interstate and foreign commerce transportation to those with the intent of committing any crime of violence to further any "unlawful activity" or who might otherwise promote or manage any "unlawful activity." The penalty for violation: $10,000 or 5 years in prison or both.

Transmission of Bets 
S. 1656 — Public Law 87-216, approved September 13, 1961 
Forbids the use of wire communications (telephone, telegraph, or any other means of interstate wire communications) for gambling. Information carried for use of the press and wireless communication of information are not included. Any common carrier, subject to the jurisdiction of the FCC, must discontinue or refuse to lease, furnish, or maintain any such facility after being notified in writing by a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency that such services are being used for transmitting or receiving gambling information. The penalty for violation: $10,000 fine or 2 years imprisonment or both. 

Wagering Paraphernalia 
S. 1657 — Public Law 87-218, approved September 13, 1961 
Prohibits interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia for bookmaking, wagering pools, numbers game or similar games carried by means other than common carrier in the usual course of its business (allows transportation of equipment from a State where it is manufactured into a State where parimutuel betting is legal). The penalty for violation: not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both. 


Antitrust Civil Process Act 
S. 167 — Public Law 87-664, approved September 19, 1962 
Authorized the Department of Justice to issue civil investigative demands requiring any person, other than a natural person, to produce documentary material for examination whenever the Department has reason to believe that the person may have material pertinent to a civil antitrust investigation, but limited to persons who are under investigation. The material is restricted for use by the Department of Justice. The civil demand must be in writing and must set forth the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged antitrust violations under investigation, as well as the applicable provision of the law. The material must be made available for inspection and reproduction at the principal place of business of the person from whom it is demanded.

This bill also provided that the demand may be tested in a district court where the person lives by filing a petition for an order of the court modifying or setting aside the demand. The tests for reasonableness and privilege of civil demands is the same as the test for subpoenas duces tecum. 

Appeals Improvidently Taken 
H.R. 75 — Public Law 87-669, approved September 19, 1962 
Required the U.S. Supreme Court to treat appeals improperly taken from Federal circuit courts of appeals as petitions for certiorari, just as the statute now requires appeals improperly taken from State courts to be treated as certiorari petitions.

Under the present statute, when an appeal is mistakenly taken as a matter of right to the U.S. Supreme Court from the highest State court and the Supreme Court thinks the case should have been taken up on a petition for certiorari, it has the right to treat the appeal as a certiorari and pass on it accordingly under section 2103 of title 28, United States Code.

But when an appeal is mistakenly taken as a matter of right from one of the Federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court is of the opinion that the case should have been taken up on a petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court is without power to treat the appeal as a petition for certiorari because no such right has been conferred upon the Supreme Court by Congress. This act confers such a right on the Supreme Court and permits it to treat such an appeal as a petition for certiorari. 

District Court Jurisdiction 
H.R. 1960 — Public Law 87748, approved October 5, 1962 
This act makes it possible to bring actions against Government officials and agencies in U.S. district courts outside the District of Columbia which, because of certain limitations on jurisdiction and venue, could formerly be brought only in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

It does not create new liabilities or new causes of action against the U.S. Government. The bill is intended to facilitate review by the Federal courts of administrative actions. To attain this end, it does two things. First, it specifically grants original jurisdiction to an officer or employee of the United States, or of any agency thereof, to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff. Secondly, it broadens the venue provisions of title 28 of the United States Code to permit an action to be brought against a Government official in the judicial district (1) where a defendant resides, or (2) in which the cause of action arose, or (3) in which any real property involving the action is situated, or (4) if no real property is involved in the action, where the plaintiff resides. This bill will not give access to the Federal courts to an action which cannot now be brought against a Federal official in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

Gambling Devices 
S. 1658 — Public Law 87-840, approved October 18, 1962 
Broadened the definition of gambling devices to cover additional types of machines (other than those defined under present law) manufactured for gambling purposes. Requires detailed records be maintained with respect to the acquisition and disposition of gambling devices that might be shipped or intended to be shipped in interstate and foreign commerce.

An inventory record of all devices sold, delivered, or shipped must be kept and must be open at any time for inspection by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

H.R. 298 — Public Law 87-693, approved September 25, 1962 
Provided for recovery by the United States from negligent third persons for cost of hospital, medical, surgical, or dental care and treatment furnished by the United States, under authority or requirement of law, to a person who is injured or suffers a disease under circumstances creating a tort liability upon a third person. 

Vending Machine Slugs 
H.R. 8038 — Public Law 87-667, approved September 19, 1962 
Broadened the Federal criminal law dealing with the manufacture and sale of slugs and similar devices which could be used in vending machines, in lieu of coins.

The bill revises the section of the United States Code which prohibits passing any token, slug, disk, device, paper, or other thing similar in size and shape to any of the lawful coins or other currency of the United States to procure anything of value from vending machines and other similar contrivances. Includes paper or other things which at the present time prohibits the manufacture and sale of tokens, slugs, disks, or other devices similar in size and shape to lawful coins of the United States which are capable of being used in vending machines or other similar contrivances. 

Water Pollution Disputes — Court Jurisdiction 
H.R. 10617 — Public Law 87-830, approved October 15, 1962 
Purpose of this act is to give the U.S. district courts concurrent original jurisdiction of cases involving the pollution of interstate river systems where the pollution is an alleged violation of an interstate compact and the signatory States have consented to such jurisdiction in their compact.

The States of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana are in process of negotiating an interstate compact for the apportionment of the waters of the Red River and for control of its pollution. These States desire to assure an impartial Federal forum for the litigation of water pollution issues that may arise under the compact, without need to resort directly to the Supreme Court where the controversy is between sovereign States.

Gives the U.S. district courts concurrent, original jurisdiction of any case or controversy satisfying all of the following conditions:

It involves the construction or application of an interstate compact which (a) relates in whole or in part to the pollution of an interstate river system; and (b) expresses the consent of the signatory States to be sued in a district court in cases involving the construction or application thereof;

It involves the pollution of the waters of such river systems in alleged violation of the compact;

One or more of the compacting States is plaintiff; and 

The case or controversy is within the judicial power of the United States as set forth in the Constitution.

The jurisdiction conferred by the bill would be without any limitation regarding the value of the matter in controversy and irrespective of the place of residence, sites, citizenship, nature, character, or legal status of all parties other than the compacting plaintiff State or States, provided that nothing in the bill is to be construed as authorizing a State to sue its own citizens in said district courts.

Existing venue rules would be expanded by including the judicial district in which the acts of pollution occur.

The bill does not express consent of the United States to be sued. 


Additional Commissioners for the U.S. Court of Claims 
S. 102 — Passed Senate October 17; House Calendar 
Authorizes an increase in the number of commissioners of the Court of Claims from 15 to 20.

Commissioners of the court serve under the rules of the court as its trial judges. Every case, when filed in the court, is referred to a commissioner who is responsible for passing on all questions of pleading incident to the joinder of issue, all procedural motions pending reduction of the issues to questions of law, and all pretrial procedures including discovery by deposition or the production of documents, and the trial of the case on issues of fact. With his findings of fact, the commissioner usually submits recommendations for conclusions of law, with supporting opinion. Thus, in practical effect, the Court of Claims now combines in one forum the facilities of trial and appellate functions.

There are five judges in the Court of Claims. Experience shows that five judges dispose of the volume of cases that can be tried by commissioners in the ratio of four commissioners per judge. It is essential, however, that cases be developed as far as possible by commissioners so review by the judges is reduced to points that can be presented sharply and succinctly. In order for the commissioners to be effective, their caseloads must be limited to reasonable size and this fact, coupled with the gradual increase in the workload of the court which has been continuing for more than 10 years, makes it advisable to increase the number from 15 to 20.  

Continuous Sessions for Federal Courts 
H.R. 2845 — Public Law 88-139, approved October 16, 1963 
Eliminates the statutory requirement that Federal district courts hold formal terms.

Provides that the times for commencing regular sessions shall be determined by the rules or orders of the court. Permits a court to adjourn pursuant to its own order or to pretermit with the consent of the judicial council for the circuit. Permits a court to hold special sessions at such places as the nature of business may require. 

Criminal Offenses Not Committed in Any District  
H.R. 2842 — Public Law 88-27, approved May 23, 1963 
Amends section 3238 of title 18 which now provides that, "The trial of all offenses begun or committed upon the high seas, or elsewhere out of the jurisdiction of any particular State or district, shall be in the district where the offender is found, or into which he is first brought" by

1. Permitting the indictment and trial of such offender or joint offenders in the district in which either of them is arrested or first brought;

2. Providing that if an offender or joint offenders commit a Federal crime on the high seas or elsewhere out of the jurisdiction of a State or district and are not arrested or brought into any district, an indictment or information may be filed in the district of the last known residence of such offender or of any one of such joint offenders. If no such residence is known, the indictment or information may be filed in the District of Columbia. The indictment or information will suspend the running of any applicable statute of limitations. 

Equitable Adjudication 
S. 535 — Public Law 88-66, approved July 19, 1963 
This bill extends the principles of equitable adjudication to sales under the Alaska Public Sales Act. 

Escape of Juvenile Delinquents 
S. 1319 — Public Law 88-251, approved December 30, 1963 
Imposes a fine of $1,000 or 1 year in prison, or both, as a penalty for a juvenile delinquent under 18 who escapes or attempts to escape from the custody of the Attorney General or his authorized representative, or from any institution in which he is confined by direction of the Attorney General, or from any custody under or by virtue of any process issued under the laws of the United States by any court, judge, or commissioner, or from the custody of any officer or employee of the United States pursuant to lawful arrests for violation of any law not punishable by death or life imprisonment and if the Attorney General has not specifically directed the institution of criminal proceedings. 

Judicial Council 
S. 979 — Passed Senate October 17; pending in House Judiciary Committee 
Amends section 332 of title 28, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of a district judge or judges on the judicial council for each circuit.

The bill also provides that the clerk of each of the U.S. courts of appeals will be the secretary of the judicial council. 

Public Defenders Act of 1963 
S. 1057 — Passed Senate August 6, 1963; H.R. 7457, House Calendar 
Authorizes each U.S. district court, with the approval of the judicial council of the circuit, to place in operation throughout the district a plan for furnishing representation for defendants charged with felonies or misdemeanors, other than petty offenses, who are financially unable to obtain an adequate defense.

Each district may select one of four alternative plans of providing counsel. The alternative plans are:

1. Appoint counsel from attorneys in private practice, compensating lawyers at a rate not exceeding $15 an hour plus reimbursement for necessary expenses on behalf of the defendant.

2. Establish a Federal public defender office with necessary assistants and staff. Salaries would be set at a level comparable to those authorized for the U.S. attorneys and their assistants in the same district.

3. Provide for participation by bar associations or selection of local legal aid or defender organizations to furnish attorneys for court appointment. Compensation and reimbursement to be made to the organization.

4. Permit each district to adopt a system containing any combination of the first three plans.

Each district has freedom to devise the plan best suited to its local needs but the bill requires that a system of adequate representation must be established in every Federal district.

The overall responsibility for administering the plans throughout the Federal court system is vested in the Judicial Conference of the United States. The Conference is authorized to issue rules and regulations governing the manner in which the districts are to implement the provisions of the statute. 

Sports Bribes 
S. 741 — Passed Senate October 31; House Calendar 
Prohibits any bribery scheme in commerce to influence the outcome of any sporting contest and provides, upon conviction, for a $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to 10 years.

Supreme Court Justice Widows — Annuities 
S. 1686 — Passed Senate November 5; pending in House Judiciary Committee 
Increases the annuities of widows of Supreme Court Justices from $5,000 to $10,000 a year, payable monthly. 

Tort Claims 
H.R. 2985 — Public Law 88-234, approved December 23, 1963 
Permits civil actions on tort claims to be brought in the district court of the district where the act or omission occurred. This will promote a more orderly administration of justice by permitting tort suits to be brought in the place where the witnesses are ordinarily conveniently available.