Funk vs. United States
Supreme Court of the United States
290 U.S. 371, 54 S. Ct. 212 (1933)
Funk was tried twice and convicted both times in Federal District Court for conspiracy to violate the prohibition law. In the first appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals the decision of the Federal District Court was reversed due to issues not applicable here. 46 F.2d 417. In both trials the defendant called upon his wife to testify on his behalf and she was excluded both times on grounds of incompetency. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sustained this ruling after both trials. 66 F.2d 70.
What law is applicable to the determination of the competency of the wife of the petitioner as a witness?
Decision of the Court:
The Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court ruling.
Reasoning of the Court:
The Supreme Court first found in the Reid case that the rule of common law did not apply to the Reid case. This is because the state of Virginia had already passed a statute stating that the evidence would not be competent in criminal cases, only in civil cases. The ruling goes on to state that the law that should be followed in federal criminal cases should follow the statutes and laws already set down by the states in which the trial by jury is taking place.
The Supreme Court then went on to say that in the Logan case it was found that the conviction and sentencing of a witness in one state should not affect his conviction and sentencing in another state. In addition, they state that this decision is not based on any statute of the United States, but by the statutes and laws of the state in which the original conviction and sentencing took place.
In the Benson case the Supreme Court ruled that a codefendant should be excluded from providing evidence because of the fear of perjury, based on the reason of interest and involvement in the crime. The Supreme Court then found that a witness should be excluded...
Citations: to Support Judgment:
United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361
Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263
Rule of Law:
The court found that any person, regardless of prior conviction, interest or involvement, or relation to the defendant may be called by the government or the defendant to give testimony as a witness on behalf of either the government or the defendant.
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