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UNITED STATES v. HENSON

November 16, 1959

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Atha N. HENSON, Edward J. Skeens


To the Chief Judge and the Associate Judges of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia upon information and belief informs the Court that on October 6, 1959, the trial of the case of United States v. Willie Hayes, et al., Criminal No. 769-59, began in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Luther W. Youngdahl presiding; that one Jesse C. Brown was a defendant in the case; that Jesse C. Brown was represented by Attorney Edward J. Skeens; that a jury was selected to try the case; that one of the members of the jury was Atha N. Henson; that prior to the selection of the jury and during the voir dire examination Government counsel, after identifying the case, inquired of the jury panel whether any of its members had any knowledge of the facts of the case; that the answer of all the members of the panel by their silence was in the negative; that in truth and in fact that aforementioned Atha N. Henson had knowledge of the facts of the case, at least as they pertain to defendant Jesse C. Brown; that the said Atha N. Henson was informed of those facts by the mother of the defendant Jesse C. Brown, Vina Smith, on or about September 30, 1959; that after she became aware that Atha N. Henson was seated on the jury, the aforesaid Vina Smith did not inform the Court or the Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting the case that that jury member knew the facts of the case before the trial; that the said Vina Smith did inform Edward J. Skeens during the trial that Atha N. Henson, knew the facts of the case before the trial; that the said Edward J. Skeens being an officer and attorney of the Court and as such being obligated to inform the Court of such knowledge if brought to his attention, failed knowingly and wilfully during the course of the trial to inform the Court that he had been advised by Vina Smith that she had discussed the facts of the case before the trial with Atha N. Henson, the aforementioned juror; that it was not known to the Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting the case nor to the Court that Atha N. Henson had knowledge of the facts of the case prior to the trial; and that the said Atha N. Henson, knowing full well that she had knowledge of the facts of the case and that she had incorrectly answered the questions propounded to her during the voir dire examination, permitted herself to be seated as a juror and sat and acted as such throughout the entire proceeding of the case.

 In acting as hereinbefore alleged, Atha N. Henson, and Edward J. Skeens, intentionally and willfully misbehaved in the presence of this Court, and conducted themselves in a manner contemptuous of this Court in the presence of this Court, and misbehaved and acted in a manner contemptuous of this Court so near the Court as to obstruct the administration of justice.

 Wherefore, the United States Attorney prays that proceedings may be had against the said Atha N. Henson and Edward J. Skeens, and a Rule to Show Cause issue upon them requiring them to appear in this Court and show cause why they should not be adjudged in criminal contempt of Court and punished accordingly.

 (s) Oliver Gasch Oliver Gasch United States Attorney (s) Francis J. Wilson Francis J. Wilson Assistant United States Attorney

 District of Columbia: ss

 'Francis J. Wilson, being first duly sworn according to law on oath, deposes and says that he is an Assistant United States Attorney and that he has read the foregoing petition by him subscribed and verily believes it to be true.

 (s) Francis J. Wilson Francis J. Wilson Assistant United States Attorney

 Subscribed and Sworn to before me this 16th day of November, 1959.

 (s) Mildred Wall Notary Public, D.C.

 Rule to Show Cause

 Upon consideration of the petition of the United States Attorney filed in the above-entitled cause on the 16th day of November, 1959, it is by the Court this 16th day of November, 1959,

 Adjudged and Ordered, that the above named Atha N. Henson and Edward J. Skeens appear before me in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on the 10th day of December, 1959, and show cause, if any they have, why they should not be adjudged in criminal contempt of court and punished accordingly as prayed in the said petition; provided that a copy of the said petition containing the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charge, which is by reference made a part hereof, and ...


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