MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents the same issue as Sherman v. United States, ante, p. 369, decided this day: Should petitioner's conviction be set aside on the ground that as a matter of law the defense of entrapment was established? Cf. Sorrells v. United States, 287 U.S. 435. Petitioner was convicted on three counts, two of which charged him with the illegal sale of narcotics and one with conspiracy to make a sale.
The evidence discloses the following events. On January 14, 1954, petitioner was introduced to government agent Marshall by a government informer, Kowel. Although petitioner had known Kowel for approximately four years, he was unaware of Kowel's undercover activities. Marshall was introduced as a big narcotics buyer. Both Marshall and petitioner testified concerning the ensuing conversation. Marshall testified that he immediately made it clear that he wanted to talk about buying large quantities of high-grade narcotics and that if petitioner were not interested, the conversation would end at once. Instead of leaving, petitioner questioned Marshall on his knowledge of the narcotics traffic and then boasted that while he was primarily a gambler, "he knew someone whom he considered high up in the narcotics traffic to whom he would introduce me [Marshall] and that I was able to get—and I can quote this—`88 per cent pure heroin' from this source." Marshall also stated that petitioner gave him a telephone number where he could be reached. In his testimony petitioner admitted that he was a gambler and had told Marshall that through his gambling contacts he knew about the narcotics traffic. He denied that he had then known any available source of narcotics or that he said he could obtain narcotics for Marshall at that time. Petitioner explained that he met Marshall only to help Kowel impress Marshall. Petitioner also said that it was Marshall who gave him the telephone number. It is noteworthy that nowhere in his testimony did petitioner state that during the conversation either Marshall or Kowel tried to persuade him to enter the narcotics traffic. In the six weeks following the conversation just related Marshall and petitioner met or spoke with each other at least ten times; petitioner kept
In this case entrapment could have occurred in only one of two ways. Either Marshall induced petitioner, or Kowel did. As for Marshall, petitioner has conceded here that the jury could have found that when petitioner met Marshall he was ready and willing to search out a source of narcotics and to bring about a sale.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
The trial court in this case, according to the views expressed in my concurring opinion in Sherman v. United States, ante, p. 378, should itself have ruled on the issue of entrapment and not left it to determination by the jury. On a mere reading of the cold record the evidence for sustaining such a claim seems rather thin. But the judge who heard and saw the witnesses might give different weight to the evidence than the printed record reveals. Accordingly, I would remand the case to the District Court for determination of the issue of entrapment by the trial judge. If he should conclude, as the jury was allowed to conclude, that the claim of entrapment was not sustained, the conviction would stand. If he reached a different result, the indictment should be dismissed. This seems, on my view of the law, a better disposition than for this Court to decide that no harm was done in leaving the question to the jury because as a matter of law there was no entrapment.