Stettinius v. United States

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Stettinius v. United States
District of Columbia Court of Appeals Seal.svg

Circuit Court, District of Columbia

November, 1839 Term
Full case name: Stettinius v. United States
Prior history: Judgment for the Appellant, appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Subsequent history:
Reversed conviction of Appellant for counterfeiting.
Court membership
Circuit Judges William Cranch, Thruston
Case opinions
Majority by: William Cranch, for the Court
Laws applied

Stettinius v. United States, 13,387 (D.C. Cir. 1839), was a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that was handed down November, 1839. It reversed the conviction of a defendant for unlawfully passing paper currency, because the indictment did not properly aver, and the verdict did not properly find, that the notes he had allegedly passed were indeed paper currency.

The defendant argued that he should be allowed to offer his construction of the law to the jury as an alternative to the trial court's interpretation. This prompted a detailed review by the Appeals Court of the law regarding jury nullification. The Appeals Court concluded that while parties may argue a point of law to the jury before the court has ruled on it, they have no right to do so afterward.

U.S. Attorney Francis Scott Key argued the case for the government.

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