The respondents here, defendants below, were charged by separate indictments with the crime of perjury, as defined in 18 U. S. C. § 1621.
The defendants filed motions to dismiss, which were sustained on the ground that the indictments did not allege the name of the person who administered the oath nor his authority to do so.
An indictment is required to set forth the elements of the offense sought to be charged.
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure were designed to eliminate technicalities in criminal pleading and are to be construed to secure simplicity in procedure. Rule 2, F. R. Crim. Proc. Rule 7 (c) provides in pertinent part as follows:
The essential elements of the crime of perjury as defined in 18 U. S. C. § 1621 are (1) an oath authorized by a law of the United States, (2) taken before a competent tribunal, officer or person, and (3) a false statement wilfully made as to facts material to the hearing. The indictments allege that the subcommittee of the Senate was a competent tribunal, pursuing matters properly
The oath administered must be authorized by a law of the United States. This requirement is met by the allegations in the indictments that the defendants had "duly taken an oath." "Duly taken" means an oath taken according to a law which authorizes such oath. See Robertson v. Perkins, 129 U.S. 233, 236. The name of the person who administered the oath is not an essential element of the crime of perjury; the identity of such person goes only to the proof of whether the defendants were duly sworn. Therefore, all the essential elements of the offense of perjury were alleged.
The source of the requirement that an indictment for perjury must aver the name and authority of the person who administered the oath is to be found in R. S. § 5396, 18 U. S. C. (1940 ed.) § 558. It may be worthy of note that this provision was expressly repealed by Congress in 1948, 62 Stat. 862, in the revision and recodification of Title 18. The House Committee on Revision of the Laws had the assistance of two special consultants who were members of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and who "rendered invaluable service in the technical task of singling out for repeal or revision the statutory provisions made obsolete by the new Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure." H. R. Rep. No. 304, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 4. In the tabulation of laws omitted and repealed by the revision, it is stated that R. S. § 5396 was repealed because "Covered by rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure." Id., at A214.
The charges of the indictments followed substantially the wording of the statute, which embodies all the elements of the crime, and such charges clearly informed the
The indictments were sufficient, and the dismissal thereof was error. The judgments are
MR. JUSTICE REED took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
"Whoever, having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury, and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."