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Michelson v. United States

United States Supreme Court
335 U.S. 469 (1948)



Michelson (defendant) was charged with bribing a federal revenue agent. At trial, Michelson’s counsel called five witnesses to attempt to prove that Michelson had a good reputation in the community. On cross examination, the prosecution (plaintiff) asked four of those witnesses if they ever heard that Michelson was arrested for receiving stolen goods. None of the witnesses had ever heard this, but the prosecution provided a record to the judge outside the presence of the jury to show that it had not simply fabricated the arrest to harm Michelson’s reputation in the eyes of the jury. Michelson was convicted of the bribery charge. The court of appeals affirmed. Michelson appealed on the grounds that the prosecution was incorrectly permitted to cross-examine the witnesses about the prior arrest.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jackson, J.)

Concurrence (Frankfurter, J.)

Dissent (Rutledge, J.)

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