Amended section 1001 (1996) expressly includes materiality as an
element under each of the three clauses in subsection (a). This resolves a
conflict among the courts on that issue. See, e.g., United States
Corsino, 812 F.2d 26 (1st Cir. 1987); United States v. Elkin, 731
1005 (2d Cir. 1984).|
After United States v. Gaudin, 115 S.Ct. 2310 (1995),
materiality is an issue to be determined by the jury. Gaudin, held
it was error for a trial court to refuse to submit the question of
to the jury in a prosecution under the first prong of 18 U.S.C. § 1001,
overturning lower court cases holding that materiality was a legal question
the court. The Supreme Court held that if materiality is an element of the
offense, that element must be submitted to the jury, and the jury must find
materiality beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. Gaudin is probably
limited to 18 U.S.C. § 1001, but may apply to any other offenses in
materiality of a false statement is an element of the offense, such as 18
§§ 1005, 1006, 1014 (false statements to various financial
1542 (false statement to obtain passport); 1621 and 1623 (perjury); and 26
§ 7206 (false statements on a tax return). This list is illustrative,
exhaustive. See United States v. Gaudin, 28 F.3d 943, 955
Cir. 1994) (Kozinski, J., dissenting)(collecting statutes possibly affected
the new ruling), aff'd, 115 S.Ct. 2310 (1995).
Although in Gaudin the Court did not explicitly hold that
materiality was an element of each branch of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, the
view is that the element of materiality pervades the entire statute. See
generally United States v. Adler, 633 F.2d 1287, 1291 (8th Cir.
1980)(the majority view is that the element of materiality pervades the
statute). Nor did the Gaudin court define "materiality," under 18
§ 1001, noting that the parties had agreed to a definition. In
the parties agreed to the definition from Kungys v. United States,
U.S. 759, 770 (1988), a denaturalization case under 8 U.S.C. § 1451 in
the Supreme Court noted that the Federal courts have long displayed a quite
uniform understanding of the materiality concept embodied in statutes
criminalizing false statements to public officials, including 18 U.S.C.
1001. Specifically, the Court stated that "[t]he most common formulation of
understanding is that a concealment or misrepresentation is material if it
a natural tendency to influence, or was capable of influencing, the decision
the decision-making body to which it was addressed." 485 U.S. at 770
and internal quotation marks omitted).
To establish materiality as an element, it is sufficient that the
statement have the capacity or a natural tendency to influence the
required to be made. See Id.; United States v. Lueben,
F.2d 751, 754 (5th Cir. 1988); United States v. Allen, 892 F.2d 66,
(10th Cir. 1989). One often cited test for materiality appears in United
States v. Weinstock, 231 F.2d 699, 701 (D.C. Cir. 1956):
"Material" when used in respect to evidence is often
with "relevant," but the two terms have wholly different meanings. To be
"relevant" means to relate to the issue. To be "material" means to have
probative weight, i.e., reasonably likely to influence the tribunal in
determination required to be made. A statement may be relevant but not
For example, a passport applicant's false statements as to name, identity,
citizenship were material to the State Department's decision as to whether
grant a passport. United States v. Ramos, 725 F.2d 1322 (11th Cir.
Thus, the test for materiality under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 is not
whether the false statement actually influenced a government function, but
whether it had the capacity to influence. Lueben, 838 F.2d at 754;
United States v. Lichenstein, 610 F.2d 1272, 1278 (5th Cir. 1980).
Weinstock held that "the issue to which the false statement is
need not be the main issue; it may be a collateral issue. And it need not
directly upon the issue but may merely augment or diminish the evidence upon
point. But it must have some weight in the process of reaching a decision."
F.2d at 703.
Materiality is best shown by the testimony of a witness, generally
those who make the decisions on the application or statements in the
case, concerning the influence that defendant's allegedly false statement
have had on the ultimate result of the transaction. Such a witness may be
expert witness or a fact witness, or both.
[cited in USAM 9-42.001]