OCTOBER TERM, 1994
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit
No. 94-172. Argued February 21, 1995—Decided May 15, 1995
Petitioner's falsehoods in unsworn papers filed in Bankruptcy Court prompted his indictment under 18 U. S. C. § 1001, which criminalizes false statements and similar misconduct occurring "in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States." He was convicted after the District Court, relying on United States v. Bramblett, 348 U. S. 503, instructed the jury that a bankruptcy court is a "department of the United States" within § 1001's meaning. In affirming, the Court of Appeals concluded that the so-called "judicial function" exception developed in other Circuits, under which § 1001 reaches false statements made while a court is performing its "administrative" or "housekeeping" functions, but not its adjudicative functions, does not exist.
Held: The judgment is reversed in part.
16 F. 3d 694, reversed in part. Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to
Parts I, II, III, and VI, concluding that, because a federal court is neither a "department" nor an "agency" within § 1001's meaning, the statute does not apply to false statements made in judicial proceedings. Pp. 699-708, 715. (a) A straightforward interpretation of § 1001's text, with special emphasis on the words "department or agency," leads inexorably to the conclusion that there is no need for any judicial function exception because the statute's reach simply does not extend to courts. Under both a commonsense reading and the terms of 18 U. S. C. § 6—which applies to all of Title 18 and defines "agency" to include, inter alia, any federal "department, independent establishment, commission, administration, authority, board or bureau"—it seems incontrovertible that "agency" does not refer to a court. Moreover, although § 6 defines "department" to mean an "executive departmen[t] . . . unless the context shows that such term was intended to describe the . . . legislative . . . or judicial branches," there is nothing in § 1001's text, or in any related legislation, that even suggests—let alone "shows"—that something other than a component of the Executive Branch was intended in this instance. Pp. 699-702.
695Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007