Federal Criminal Procedure – Venue Situs of Crime of Failing to Perform Statutory Duty

Three defendants, classified conscientious objectors, were prosecuted for violations of the Military Training and Service Act. Defendants were ordered to report to their local boards for civilian work assignments in lieu of induction. They reported to their boards but refused to comply with instructions ordering them to report at hospitals located in judicial districts other than those of their boards. The Third Circuit held that the crime of “knowingly failing or neglecting to obey any such order” was committed in the district where the hospital was located and that venue was proper in such district. On similar facts the Tenth Circuit had previously held that the crime was committed in the district where the draft board was located and venue was improper in any other district. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, Third Circuit affirmed, three justices dissenting. Defendants were required to report to the local board and to report for employment. The crime arises from a failure to complete the second duty, and the place fixed for its performance fixes the situs of the crime and determines the venue of the offense. Johnston v. United States, 351 U.S. 215 (1956).