Dennis V. S. United States Petitioner who is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the U. S.
was convicted in the District of Columbia for violation R. S. 102, 2 U. S. C. 192, He failed to appear before the committe of the Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives.
Goverment employees on the jury panel were interrogated individually by petitioners counsel as to the fact that he was a Communist. Executive Order 9835 gave standards for the discharge of goverment employees if there is reasonable evidence that they are disloyal to the goverment. This would prevent them from finding a fair anf impartial verdict. 7 goverment employees that gave negative answers to all the questions and testified that they would give a fair and impartial verdict were permitted to serve on the jury. George W.
Crockett, Jr. argued the cause for petitioner also on his side Earl Dickerson, David M. , Freedman and Harry Sac her. Solicitor General Perlman argued the cause for the United States also on his side Assistant Attorney General Campbell, Robert S. Er dahl and Harold D. Cohen.
For the National Lawyers Guild was Robert J. Silverstein. He failed to appear before the Commitee on Un-American Activites in compliance with a subpoena duly served upon him. The Court of Appeals affirmed, 84 U. S. App.
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D. C. 31, 171 F. 2 d 986. They where granted certiorari limited to the questions whether goverment employees could properly server on the jury which tried petitioner. He voluntarily appeared before the House Commitee on Un-American Activities which had under consideration two bills to outlaw the Communist Party.
Petitioner was and is General Secretary of the United States. He refused to answer questions as to his name and the date and place of birth in front of the Commitee. The Chairman of the Commitee directed that a subpoena be served forthwith upon petitioner, making him have to come before the Commitee on April 9, 1947. He did not app ear but sent a representative. The Commitee reported his refusal to appear to the House of Representatives, and the House adopted a resolution certifying the report of the Committee to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
The Petitioner was Subsequently indicted. When the case came to trial, the petitioner said that he could not obtain a fair and impartial tidal in the District of Columbia. He posted [339 U. S 162, 165] this was mainly on the ground that goverment employees, who take a large part of the Districts population, Executive order 9835, 12 Fed. Reg. 1935 That provided standards for discharging on reasonable grounds for belief that they are disloyal to the Goverment of United States.
The motion was denied. Attorney for petitioner questioned individually each member of the panel who indicated that he was employed by the Goverment. He challenged for cause all Goverment employees. It was denied. He exhausted all his peremptory challenges.
Seven of the twelve finally selected were Goverment employees. The petitioner, Dennis was convicted of wilfully refusing to give testimony before the House Committee on Um-American Activities. The evidence against him was very strong. But no matter how strong the evidence was he had a constitutional right to have it passed on by an impartial jury. Each juror asserted that he or she could vote for acquittal without fear of adverse consequences. Under Executive Order 9835 vigorous demands by the congressional committee which had initiated the prosecution of Dennis.
Any of these employees would lose his job if a “loyalty test” revealed “reasonable grounds” for the belief that he was disloyal. The Affidavit asserted that committee members “have stated openly on the floor of the House of Representatives that they demand a prosecution and convictions of, and the imposition of the maximum punishment on this dependent. The number of potential jurors felt that dennis’s position as Secretary of the Committee Party in this country would alone prevent their giving him a fair trial. Goverment employees on the jury panel were interrogated individually by the petitioners counsel as to whether the fact that petitioner was communist.
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This was the case.