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UNITED STATES v. YUGINOVICH ET AL.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


June 1, 1921

UNITED STATES
v.
YUGINOVICH ET AL.

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON

McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke

Author: Day

[ 256 U.S. Page 457]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This case is here under the Criminal Appeals Act. 34 Stat. 1246. The indictment is in four counts.

[ 256 U.S. Page 458]

     The first count, based on § 3257 of the Revised Statutes, 6 Comp. Stats., § 5993, charges the defendants with unlawfully engaging in the business of distillers within the intent and meaning of the internal revenue laws of the United States; and that in fact they did distill spirits subject to the internal revenue tax imposed by the laws of the United States; and did defraud and attempt to defraud the United States of the tax on said spirits. The second count, based on § 3279 of the Revised Statutes, 6 Comp. Stats., § 6019, charges that the defendants failed to keep on the distillery, conducted by them, any sign exhibiting the name or firm of the distiller, with the words "Registered Distillery," as required by statute. The third count, based on § 3281 of the Revised Statutes, 6 Comp. Stats., § 6021, charges the defendants with carrying on the business of distilling within the intent and meaning of the internal revenue laws of the United States without giving the bond required by law. The fourth count, based on § 3282 of the Revised Statutes, 6 Comp. Stats., § 6022, charges the defendants with unlawfully making a mash, fit for distillation, in a building not a distillery duly authorized by law.

The defendants interposed a motion to quash the indictment upon the grounds that the acts of Congress under which the same found were repealed before the finding of the indictment, and that the acts charged to have been committed by them were after the date upon which the Eighteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution and the Volstead Act became effective. Defendants also filed a demurrer to the indictment on practically the same grounds. The motion to quash and the demurrer were sustained by the District Court. 266 Fed. Rep. 746.

The sections of the Revised Statutes may be summarized as follows: Section 3257 makes it an offense to defraud or attempt to defraud the United States of a tax

[ 256 U.S. Page 459]

     upon spirits distilled by one carrying on the business of a distiller; provides for forfeiting the distillery and the distilling apparatus and all spirits found in the distillery or on the distillery premises, and subjects the offender to a fine of not less than $500 or more than $5,000, and imprisonment of not less than six months or more than three years. Section 3279 requires distillers to exhibit on the outside of their place of business a sign with the words: "Registered Distillery." A violation of this section subjects the offender to a fine of $500. Section 3281 makes it an offense to carry on the business of a distiller without having given bond. For such offense the penalty is a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 and imprisonment not less than six months or more than two years. Section 3282 makes it penal to make or permit mash to be made in any building other than a distillery authorized by law. A violation of this section subjects the offender to a fine of not less than $500 or more than $5,000, and imprisonment of not less than six months or more than two years.

These statutes have long been part of the federal internal revenue legislation, and were passed under the authority of the taxing power conferred upon Congress by the Constitution of the United States. At the time of their enactment it was legal, so far as the Federal Government was concerned, to manufacture and sell ardent spirits for beverage purposes. The Government derived large revenue from taxing the business, which it sought to realize and protect by the system of laws of which the sections in question were a part. This policy was radically changed by the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and the enactment of legislation to make the Amendment effective. The Eighteenth Amendment in comprehensive and clear language prohibits the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors in the United States for

[ 256 U.S. Page 460]

     beverage purposes, and confers upon Congress the power to enforce the Amendment by appropriate legislation. To this end, Congress passed a national prohibition law known as the Volstead Act. 41 Stat. 305. It is a comprehensive statute intended to prevent the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes.

Before taking up the sections of the Revised Statutes, some provisions of the Volstead Act may be appropriately referred to. Section 3, Title II, provides that after the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States goes into effect it shall be illegal to manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized in the act. Liquor for non-beverage purposes and wine for sacramental purposes may be manufactured, purchased, sold, bartered, transported, imported, exported, delivered, furnished and possessed, but only as in the act provided, and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue may issue permits therefor. The act contains many provision to make effective the purposes declared in § 3. Section 25 makes it unlawful to have or possess any liquor or property designed for the manufacture of liquor intended for use in violation of the act, or which has been so used, and provides that no property rights shall exist in any such liquor or property. The same section provides for the issue of search warrants, and if it be found that any liquor or property is unlawfully held or possessed, or has been unlawfully used, the liquor and all property designed for the unlawful manufacture of liquor shall be destroyed, unless the court otherwise orders. Section 29 provides that any person who manufactures or sells liquor in violation of Title II of the act shall for a first offense be fined not more than $1,000, or be imprisoned not exceeding six months, and for a second or subsequent offense shall be fined

[ 256 U.S. Page 461]

     not less than $200 nor more than $2,000 and be imprisoned for not less than one month nor more than five years.

In Title III elaborate provision is made for the production of alcohol in industrial alcohol plants. It provides for the taxation of such alcohol, and excepts industrial alcohol plants and bonded warehouses for the storage and distribution of industrial alcohol from certain sections of the Revised Statutes.

It is well settled that in cases of this character the construction or sufficiency of the indictment is not brought before us. United States v. Keitel, 211 U.S. 370; United States v. Stevenson, 215 U.S. 190. For the purpose of interpreting the statute we adopt the meaning placed upon the indictment by the court below. United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300. As that court evidently construed the statutes upon the assumption that the charges had relation to intoxicating liquors intended for beverage purposes, we shall follow that view of the indictment in determining whether the former statutes are still in force.

Section 35*fn1 (in the margin) in its first sentence repeals

[ 256 U.S. Page 462]

     all prior acts to the extent of their inconsistency with the National Prohibition Act, to that extent and no more, and provides that no revenue stamps, or tax receipts, shall be issued in advance for the illegal manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors, and that upon evidence of such illegal manufacture or sale the tax shall be assessed in double the amount now provided by law, with an additional penalty of $500 as to retail dealers and $1,000 as to manufacturers, and that the payment of such tax or penalty shall not give the right to engage in the manufacture or sale of such liquors, or relieve anyone from criminal liability.

That Congress may under the broad authority of the taxing power tax intoxicating liquors notwithstanding their production is prohibited and punished, we have no question. The fact that the statute in this aspect had a moral end in view as well as the raising of revenue, presents no valid constitutional objection to its enactment. License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 462, 471; In re Kollock, 165 U.S. 526, 536; United States v. Jin Fuey Moy, 241 U.S. 394; United States v. Doremus, 249 U.S. 86. The question remains, concerning the applicability of § 3257, involving the right to punish for attempting to defraud the United States of a tax, Did Congress intend to punish such violation of law by imposing the old penalty denounced

[ 256 U.S. Page 463]

     in § 3257 or as provided in the new and special provision enacted in the Volstead Act?

It is the contention of the Government that § 35 saves the right to prosecute as to taxes, as well as the acts charged as violative of the other sections of the Revised Statutes, because of the phrase with which the section concludes: ". . . nor shall this act relieve any person from any liability, civil or criminal, heretofore or hereafter incurred under existing laws."

It is, of course, settled that repeals by implication are not favored. It is equally well settled that a later statute repeals former ones when clearly inconsistent with the earlier enactments. United States v. Tynen, 11 Wall. 88. In construing penal statutes, it is the rule that later enactments repeal former ones practically covering the same acts but fixing a lesser penalty. The concluding phrase of § 35 by itself considered is strongly indicative of an intention to retain the old laws. But this section must be interpreted in view of the constitutional provision contained in the Eighteenth Amendment and in view of the provisions of the Volstead Act intended to make that Amendment effective.

Having in mind these principles and considering now the first count of the indictment charging an attempt to defraud and actually defrauding the Government of the revenue tax, we do not believe that the general language used at the close of § 35 evidences the intention of Congress to inflict for such an offense the punishment provided in § 3257 with the resulting forfeiture, fine, and imprisonment, and at the same time to authorize prosecution and punishment under § 35 enacting lesser and special penalties for failing to pay such taxes by imposing a tax in double the amount provided by law, with an additional penalty of $500 on retailers and $1,000 on manufacturers. Moreover, the concluding words of the first paragraph of § 35, as to all the offenses charged, must

[ 256 U.S. Page 464]

     be read in the light of established legal principles governing interpretation of statutes, and in view of the provisions of the Volstead Act itself making it unlawful to possess intoxicating liquor for beverage purposes, or property designed for the manufacture of such liquor, and providing for their destruction. We agree with the court below that while Congress manifested an intention to tax liquors illegally as well as those legally produced, which was within its constitutional power, it did not intend to preserve the old penalties prescribed in § 3257 in addition to the specific provision for punishment made in the Volstead Act.

We have less difficulty with the other sections of the prior revenue legislation under which the charges, already set forth, are made. We think it was not intended to keep on foot the requirement as to displaying the words "Registered Distillery" in a place intended for the production of liquor for beverage purposes which could no longer be lawfully conducted; nor to require a bond for the control of such production; nor to penalize the making of mash in a distillery which could not be authorized by law.

The questions before us solely concern the construction of the statutes involved, under an indictment pertaining to the production of liquor for beverage purposes, and we think they were correctly answered in the opinion of the court below. It follows that its judgment is

Affirmed.


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