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UNITED STATES v. MIDSTATE HORTICULTURAL CO. ET AL. *FN*

decided: January 30, 1939.

UNITED STATES
v.
MIDSTATE HORTICULTURAL CO. ET AL.*FN*



APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Hughes, McReynolds, Brandeis, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed

Author: Black

[ 306 U.S. Page 162]

 MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

These two appeals present for review a single question. As stated by appellant the sole question in each appeal is "whether or not the indictment charges the commission of an offense against the United States in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as it must, if appellees are to be prosecuted therein. Constitution, Article 3, Section 2, Clause 3; Amendment VI."*fn1

[ 306 U.S. Page 163]

     The defendant in No. 287 was indicted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania charged with making unlawful rebates on interstate shipments. Defendants in No. 286 were charged, by indictment in the same District, with receiving the unlawful rebates. The District Court sustained demurrers to both indictments. The Government appealed directly to this Court. Appellees moved here to dismiss the appeals on identical grounds. The motions to dismiss are denied in both cases.*fn2

The record requires that we treat the indictments to which demurrers were sustained as charging that rebates or concessions were paid and received in New York in 1935 in connection with the transportation of goods in 1932 from California through the Eastern District of

[ 306 U.S. Page 164]

     Pennsylvania to New Jersey; that the full lawful rate in accordance with published tariffs was paid when the transportation took place; and that prior to the time of the payment and receipt of the alleged rebates in New York in 1935 the carrier and shippers had neither agreed nor intended that any rebate or concession should be made. The Government concedes that the jurisdictional provisions of the Elkins Act,*fn3 on which the prosecutions are based, require trial in the District in which a violation of the Act is committed, but contends that the record discloses violations actually committed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This contention rests upon the argument that the Elkins Act aims primarily to prevent the result of obtaining transportation at less than the lawful rate; that payment and receipt of rebates in 1935 served to accomplish such forbidden results -- namely, transportation in 1932 at less than the lawful rate; and, since the transportation in 1932 passed through the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the offenses were committed and are punishable there.

The statute defines offenses under it as follows: ". . . it shall be unlawful for any person, persons, or corporation to offer, grant, or give, or to solicit, accept, or receive any rebate, concession, or discrimination in respect to the transportation of any property in interstate . . . commerce by any common carrier . . . whereby any such property shall by any device whatever be transported at a less rate than that named in the tariffs published and filed by such carrier, . . ." As to venue the statute provides: "Every violation of this section shall be prosecuted in any court of the United States having jurisdiction of crimes within the district in which such violation was committed, or through which the transportation may have been conducted; and whenever the offense is begun

[ 306 U.S. Page 165]

     in one jurisdiction and completed in another it may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined, and punished in either jurisdiction in the same manner as if the offense had been actually and wholly committed therein."

We need not determine whether Congress intended -- by providing for the trial of crimes "within the district . . . through which the transportation may have been conducted" -- to confer jurisdiction in any District wherein a violation was not committed. The Government only insists that the indictments here disclose offenses committed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and urges that the provision for trial in any District ...


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